Agnes (Ashley Judd) is a woman whose tragic past lingers. Her abusive ex husband Jerry (Harry Connick Jr) has just been released from jail, and she still looks for her son, who went missing a few years ago, in her dreams. Home is a lonely motel room, where she hits the bottle and snorts coke. One night, her friend R.C. (Lynn Collins) drops by with a drifter called Peter (Michael Shannon), who says he is not interested in women. But they end up going to bed together and become close. Paranoia sets in when Peter starts noticing bugs everywhere, and soon both he and Agnes believe they have been infected by an epidemic of aphid bugs.
Review by Louise Keller:
She needs a man like she needs a hole in the head, but when Ashley Judd's Agnes invites the loner Peter (Michael Shannon) to spend the night, she gets much more than she bargains for. I couldn't stop watching William Friedkin's genuinely creepy psychological thriller even though it gallops into absurdity towards the end.
We are so used to see Ashley Judd playing glamorous roles it comes somewhat of a shock to find she can play down and out so effectively. We first meet her Agnes wearing a singlet and teeny denim shorts in the solitude of her dim motel room. The silence on the end of the constantly ringing phone unnerves her, and we can understand the appeal when Peter comes into her life. 'I haven't been to bed with a woman for a very long time but I think I could go to bed with you,' he tells her. There's an ultra sensuous sex-scene after which Peter tells Agnes his secret.
Agnes should have paid heed to her sixth sense when she first meets Peter and tells him 'People who don't drink make me nervous.' It starts when he hears a cricket chirping and soon she, too, becomes obsessed by his paranoia about the bugs that are everywhere. Performances are excellent: Judd is most appealing and Shannon projects a chilling quality. Also adding to the tension is Harry Connick Jnr's threatening ex husband Jerry who looms out of the shadows when least expected. I love the shot of Jerry as he is sprawled on the bed through the turning ceiling fan. We are detached, yet involved.
The final reel plunges deep into outlandish paranoia, when the motel room walls are lined with tin foil and the world is tinged with blue. Don't be surprised if you start scratching as Agnes and Peter itch from their bug bites as all their demons coagulate. But despite the bizarre depths to which Friedkin's film descends, Bug is as intriguing as it is taunting.
Published March 20, 2008
Email this article
BUG: DVD (M)
CAST: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon Harry Connick Jr, Lynn Collins, Brian F. O'Byrne
PRODUCER: Kimberly C. Anderson, Michael Burns, Gary Huckabay, Malcolm Petal, Andreas Schardt, Holly Wiersma
DIRECTOR: William Friedkin
SCRIPT: Tracy Letts
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Grady
EDITOR: Darrin Navarro
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Franco-Giacomo Carbone
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9 Widescreen
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: January 30, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.