My Review of Bug

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:43 am

Much like with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a number of viewers are going to be disappointed with Bug because the studio’s marketing department decided to totally misrepresent the movie by advertising it as a horror film. This is not a horror film, it is a film about psychosis and paranoid delusion.

Bug is about a woman named Agnes living in a small Oklahoma who’s sort of down on her luck; stuck in a hand-to-mouth existence, living in a run-down motel, with an abusive husband who is about to be released from jail. She sort of stumbles into a relationship with a young man named Peter who is either suffering from acute paranoid delusions or was the victim of an ultra-secret government project to insert living, self-replicating surveillance devices–“bugs”–into the flesh of soldiers. It doesn’t take a heck of a long time to decide which of these scenarios is the more likely. Over time, Peter’s madness seems to infect Agnes, and their personal vectors line up, to disastrous effect.

Director William Friedkin did a good job of translating the look and feel of a theater production–the origins of the story–into a motion picture. The whole thing has that “fourth wall” theatrical feel to it, and the effect is claustrophobic and kind of creepy. Michael Shannon skillfully pupates (heh heh, a bug reference, get it?) from an odd-but-likeable guy into an out-and-out lunatic before your eyes. The tipping point in his psychosis comes without a lot of warning, and took me by surprise (then again, I never see these things coming in movies).

Ashley Judd is….well, she’s okay. Her crazy acting is a little over the top, and her lines at time seemed forced. She’s good at “exhausted woman in a dead-end situation”, not as good at “exhausted woman descending into madness”. I would have liked to see someone more organically crazy play the role.

Overall, the movie effectively portrays one person’s paranoid fantasies and the effect they can have, given the proper physical and psychological circumstances, on another person thrust into close proximity with him. It’s not the best treatment of the subject, but it’s far from the worst. I think it’s a pretty good film….not anything I need to rush out and buy for my personal library, but worth seeing. But it’s definitely not a horror movie, and anyone looking for one is likely to come away from Bug highly unsatisfied.

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