First they send in their drone... Then they find their queen.
Bug by William Friedkin
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blurb: Having escaped her abusive ex-husband Goss, recently released from state prison, Agnes, a lonely waitress with a tragic past moves into a sleazy motel. Her lesbian co-worker R.C. introduces her to Peter, paranoiac drifter and they begin a tentative romance. However, things aren't always as they appear and Agnes is about to experience a claustrophobic nightmare reality as the bugs begin to arrive....
Thoughts: Well that was certainly unexpected. I had assumed that an Ashley Judd movie called Bug would be a really shitty slasher movie of some kind. Turns out it's not. I don't know what it is. I might never know. The second half of this movie was like a train wreck that somehow blows up a nuclear reactor. Horrible, shocking, mesmerising, the kind of cinema that is so far removed from the staid comfortable lifestyle most of us live that your jaw will drop repeatedly (if you manage to raise it to begin with,) you will want to vomit several times, if you think on it too hard you may find tears have sprung to your eyes and the whole time your brain is screaming, fighting to unscramble what you're seeing, to put a label on it and quantify it as a metaphor or several metaphors even, a statement about something, anything, just so long as you can classify it and deal with the fall out in a more comfortable manner.
The pairing of Friedkin and Tracy Letts was enough to make me actually reconsider this film after the dynamite that was Killer Joe last year but it was discovering that Michael Shannon has a lead role that made me seek it out and press play, knowing that if all else fails I'd at least have another great Michael Shannon performance to enjoy.
This one makes everything else he's done look like a sane man on a bad day, it's so far beyond batshit crazy that a colloquial term hasn't been invented for it yet. Boy does he go all the way balls out (literally and figuratively) for his art in this one too, dragging the usually infuriatingly magnolia Ashley Judd along by the roots of her hair, somehow inspiring her to her own very good performance opposite him.
If you thought Friedkin took things too far with the chicken scene in Killer Joe then I'd hate to see your reaction to this movie. I have previously called Killer Joe a statement of intent from Friedkin to reinvent himself as a filmmaker but it is clear now that Bug was his statement and Killer Joe is the film that reaped the benefits. There is so much in Bug that would be later toned down and shined up, the rough edges removed and experiments in camera positioning perfected in Killer Joe that in many ways this is the film that deserves the plaudits. Except that would mean acknowledging this evil little film and I'm not sure I'm OK with that.
Join me in trying to make some sense of this film in the comments or tweet @bbbgtoby with #bug