William Friedkin's 2006 film Bug

Discussion in 'Movies' started by RyanAn, May 26, 2007.

  1. RyanAn

    RyanAn Screenwriter

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    From the director of "The Exorcist" William Friedkin's newest film about a " paranoid, unhinged, war veteran who sees insects everywhere holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room."

    I don't think I've ever left a movie feeling so violated, so lied to by a trailer. "From the director of the Exorcist!" "The most terrifying movie of the year!" - all slogans run rampant upon the trailer of the film "Bug."

    Lynn Collin's "R.C." convinces her friend, "Agnes" to hit up the local lesbian bar where she already has a friend in mind for her to meet. A male friend! Who's she's just met, and they go off together to "Agnes" home for a heavy-petting/cocaine/pot roast session. After R.C. leaves "Peter" at Agnes's home - a bond is made between the two. In the next several hours, Peter notices that Agnes may have a bug infestion. Can Peter and Agnes come together as one and rid the home of the bugs and shade Peter from his potential shady past all while providing Agnes someone to comfort her while her abusive ex husband comes back unwantingly into her life?

    Batting normally above 500 is Ashley Judd - who can really show off some good work, she usually keeps the dissapointments to a mininum. Her performance in in "Heat" and "Simon Birch" were seeminlgy down to Earth and grounded. Maybe asking her to scream in her panties and then eventually a lack thereof kind of takes a bit out of her. And of course Michael Shannon. Having proven his chops most recently in such intriguing films as "The Woodsman" and "World Trade Center" I was definately setting my hopes up high for his performance in this film. Through the majority of the film, Michael provided a sullen, short-sentenced character in Peter who showed a sterness from his aforementioned military background. Harry Connick Jr. plays a supporting role as a by-the-books, you've seen him before abusive ex-husband, who goes no where regardless of the mostly good performance from the actor. There's also Brian F. O'Byrne's performance as Dr. Sweet - only the 5th or 6th castmember we see who is largely underused and is one of the key people for any sort of explanation. It's a very comicly unintentional character who I just can't make hide nor hair of - and frankly it really compliments the rest of the film.

    This movie is not scary, nor is tense or frankly even interesting. It's pretty much a first act and a second without a real closing argument to satisfy me other than a few cheap giggles at the expense of the dialouge. Two of my favorite lines are "I am the queen mother!" and "I'm no expert!" - the second being after the last hour and a half being one. I would of liked to of had more information on the son. There's a few short images thrown at the beginning of the credits and at the very end of the credits that shed little to no light - and make me that much more confused. I don't want to spoil anything in particular because I don't really want to remember what happened. The pluses in the film are it had a small cast, a lot of single camera shots for most of the film, and I did enjoy that the majority of the film took place in a single location which in a sense could add to someone's potential maddening. Mine that is.

    .5/ out of 4 stars - D-
     
  2. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    My gut feeling was that this one pretty much sucked. Of course, it's far from my favorite genre.
     
  3. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    We had the misfortune of seeing this turd this morning. I still can't articulate how bad it is, though Ashely Judd is so delightfully invested in the character of Agnes I can't help but hope someone recognizes her acting in Bug.

    As my boyfriend commented after leaving the theater...awful. I think a .5/4 is actually generous.
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Oh my. I guess I have to provide the counterpoint.

    Bug is William Friedkin's best film in years, and it easily takes its place next to masterpieces of psychological horror like David Cronenberg's Spider and Dead Ringers (I kept thinking of the latter during the film's last half hour; if you know the film, you'll understand why). There are no monsters, no killers, and the only actual bugs are the off-screen crickets whose chirping punctuates the soundtrack. The horror is in meeting a seemingly ordinary person (Michael Shannon's Peter) who, in a rapid series of developments, reveals himself to be a raving psychotic -- and then to watch another seemingly normal person (Ashley Judd's Agnes) follow in every one of his lunatic footsteps. The film is a perverse romance in which two strangers recognize their soulmate in each other, but it's a match made in hell, not heaven. By the end, even their lovemaking is subsumed in the insanity.

    I missed Tracey Letts' original play during its successful off-Broadway run, but Michael Shannon originated the role of Peter, and he clearly owns it here. We know there's something "off" about Peter from the moment we first see him, but Shannon makes him just believable enough as a guy who's merely awkward to make it credible that two women would invite him along for a friendly drink. (Note to RyanAn: The reason Agnes goes to the bar is because that's where she and R.C. work waiting tables.) And Ashley Judd makes Agnes sufficiently lonely and broken (the explanation comes out gradually) that it's equally credible why she wouldn't notice as Peter progresses from awkward to downright weird.

    It's hard to say more without giving too much away, but for those of you who need your horror movies to deliver at least one jolt, there's a scene with a pair of pliers that I defy anyone to sit through without wincing. I can say that Letts (who adapted his play for the screen) and Friedkin make expert use of the claustrophobic motel room ("The Rustic Motel", according to the sign on the roof) in which most of the action takes place, as well as of the occasional outdoor scenes that would have been impossible onstage. As for Harry Connick, Jr.'s abusive ex-husband, the character only seems "by the numbers" until you get to the end and realize you've been seeing him entirely from Agnes' point of view, and maybe it's time to rethink that. (Brian F. O'Byrne's "Dr. Sweet" is another story; in many ways, his scene is one of the creepiest in the film, but it comes near the end, and I can't really describe why without major spoilers.)

    For a while there, Ashley Judd appeared to be in danger of disappearing into the studio genre machine (e.g., Twisted, Double Jeopardy, High Crimes). With Bug and the criminally underseen Come Early Morning, she returns to the dramatic roots that first brought her to Hollywood's attention (Ruby in Paradise, the Broadway revival of Picnic). Here's hoping she continues on that path, because the lady is a major talent.

    Lionsgate knows how to market the Saw pictures and their ilk, but they clearly had no idea what to do with this one, as indicated by the many times they postponed it. Ignore the marketing campaign, and see it for the human-sized drama (with a grisly twist or two).

    M.
     
  5. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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    Michael, I agree. I thought the movie was fantastic. I think I was the only one in the theater that did.

    From the start of my review:

    Do you ever get the feeling that you are the only person in the theater that is enjoying what is on the screen? That was how I felt watching Bug. I was drawn into this twisted tale of two fractured people who feed each others paranoia fueled delusions in an endless feedback loop of fear and love. While I was becoming involved in what was happening between them, there were people snickering, and oft times outright laughing. Now, don't get me wrong, I can actually see where they are coming from. Bug is the kind of movie that almost requires you to buy in, completely giving yourself over to the film, much like The Blair Witch Project, this movie is not a passive experience, if you sit there and watch it you will likely be disappointed, but the moment you allow yourself to become invested, it is like flipping a switch and it becomes one freaky thrill ride.
     
  6. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    I'm with Michael & Chris - I thought Bug was brilliant. It's a thoroughly convincing descent into madness. Both lead actors are amazing, but Judd in particular is spellbinding in this. In the beginning of the film she establishes almost without words how filled with despair Agnes is, which is essential for believing that she would follow Peter willingly into his Hell.

    There's probably no way to market this film, so I suspect Lionsgate just fell back on what they know best - selling slasher porn - which Bug most definitely isn't. It's not for everyone, but if you're adventurous check it out (to follow-up on what Micheal said, having a taste for Cronenburg is a good sign you're ready for Bug).
     
  7. Henry Carmona

    Henry Carmona Screenwriter

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    I MUST agree with Ryan, this movie was TERRIBLE!

    What a waste of time and $3.50 for the rental!

    I can appreciate acting, even in bad flicks. Heck, give Judd an Academy Award for acting dumb if you like but this movie sucked big ones!
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I saw this a couple weeks back and have to correct my initial presumption. It really is an interesting movie, but I also see why most people wouldn't like it. I do disagree with Craig in one way though. I don't think it is remotely "convincing", but I don't think it is meant to be. It is highly metaphorical, not literal or realistic. I suspect most people will have the same reaction to this that they have to Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Needless to say, it iw way out there.
     
  9. pricech4

    pricech4 Auditioning

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    yes, this film was incredibly disappointing...seems that is the case with most these days...
     
  10. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I rented this one a couple of weeks ago and thought it ranked highly on unintentional comedy. I totally understood the point of the film, but I just kept on laughing at it when the filmmakers wanted me to be disturbed.
     

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