Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Movie Review: Bug (2006) Dir. William Friedkin

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


  1. I actually really like this movie, and am, coincidentally, watching it with Friedkin's commentary on as we speak. He says he basically wanted to make it as an exploration into fear. About how we can fool ourselves with fear, and be fooled by it. He also says he considers it a black comedy, which is... interesting.

    But I agree, Bug was Friedkin's reinvention.

    1. Friedkin thinks that Bug is a black comedy? Well that says a lot about him I suppose. Either that or Tracy Letts told him to say it. To be fair Killer Joe is something of a black comedy too so maybe he is right. The more time that passes since seeing it the more I like it and the more I strangely feel the urge to watch it again. I honestly didn't think that would happen when the credits rolled the first time.

  2. I've seen part of this on TV, and I really need to go back and watch the entire film. The reaction seems mixed, but I'm always willing to give Friedkin a chance. Plus, the performances look great, from what I've seen.

    1. I'm pretty sure you'll dig this Josh. I actually can't imagine what a negative reaction might be however so take that with a pinch of salt. Big yep to Shannon and Judd on the performance front. They make this film watchable.

  3. Find something new and diferent on this film everytime i watch it and feels shorter than the last time... and i love it!, its all about NEEDS, whats good for me maybe you will like it or not but if fill my needs, makes me happy and maybe destroy myself, you can go to hell! LOVE THIS MOVIE AND ASHLEY JUDD!