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OK, cheesy joke, I know, but actually the movie really did get to me. I
picked up this movie at Hollywood Video, I was pretty curious on what
it was, if it was a thriller, horror movie, or drama, it's pretty much
a mix of all. But also William Friedkin had directed the film, William
isn't just the director of The Exorcist, he's an incredible director
who has many works of art under his belt. So I rented Bug and watched
it last night and I have to say that this was an incredibly disturbing
psychological thriller that really freaked me out. I mean, these
performances were absolutely amazing, most people are raving about
Ashley Judd's performance, but what about Michael Shannon? In my
opinion, he had the best performance, he was so intense and he really
draws you into the scene and the story.
Agnes is a woman who is pretty much on her own, she lives in a cruddy little motel, has an abusive boyfriend who is out of jail and won't leave her alone, and also lost a son a while back in a grocery store. She's also a drug addict. When her friend, R.C., brings her friend, Peter to Agnes's house, Peter and Agnes pretty much click from the get go, but when Peter tries to get away from Agnes, he confesses the reason why, that he was part of an army experiment and he's escaped. She asks him to stay anyways, that she's so lonely, and he does, but soon they have delusions of a bug infestation and start destroying each other over something that they swear they can see and is watching them.
The story is so beyond intense, I couldn't believe how much this film got to me. Especially when they reveal the ultimate damage that Peter does to his own character, it sent shivers down my spine. Ashley, Michael, and Harry all brought in great performances and really made this story incredibly interesting and scary to watch. The whole ending was beautifully shot by Friedkin, I was a little disappointed with how quickly it did end, but thinking about it, I'm not sure if there could have been a better ending, but you'll have to see what I mean when you watch it. I would recommend this film, I don't think many users are understanding what it's about or are just focusing on the wrong things here, but this movie I warn you is not for the faint of heart.
Bizarre, stylish thriller is one of the best big screen tales of
creeping paranoia in many years.
Depressed Oklahoma woman living in a rural motel meets a mysterious drifter who claims the army has planted deadly insects in his body as part of a shady experiment. But that's only the beginning...
While the trailer for Bug may make it seem like a David Croenberg-type parasite horror film, Bug is really much more of a dark psychological character study. Never the less this is a compelling and truly twisted little shocker. The plot starts off leisurely, but ultimately builds to some intense and hauntingly good sequences. The characters are convincingly well played, the atmosphere is brooding, and the direction is slickly done.
Ashley Judd is terrific as the lonely woman who becomes infatuated with the stranger and Michael Shannon does a strong performance as the ex-soldier who fears he is part of a sinister conspiracy. Harry Conick Jr. is also great in his supporting role as Judd's abusive ex-con husband.
While Bug may disappoint gore-hounds, those that enjoy a good mind-trip will find much to savor in this warped little film!
*** 1/2 out of ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm kind of left on the fence after this one. This is not a film that
one 'enjoys,' as it is a portrait of insanity and insanity's effects on
the vulnerable. Here are some pretty cool things about it:
1. The setting is entirely done in a motel room, and it is interesting to see how it changes throughout the film. 2. The main character, Agnes, changes from a vulnerable, lonely woman into a psychotic self-destructive woman who severs ties with everything but her boyfriends delusions. Once again, another interesting change to see take place. 3. It forces the audience to make decisions as to who to empathize with and why. And to be honest, the basis for reality is not established until the end.
Like I said, it's a beautiful film to watch, especially since it is shot in a small space with a lot of fixed angels, very little panning. The lighting is something pretty spectacular, as well. The acting is dead on, and the characters are believable and consistent throughout the movie. The only significant criticism that I can bring against this film is that empathy with the characters is challenged by the radical nature of their circumstances.
This movie is worth a watch, but don't expect jumpy-type horror or unnecessary gore. This one is meant to make your question, to puzzle. So if you don't like that, you won't like this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film today at the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles. I had
seen some previews of it once and thought it looked interesting. I
wasn't sure what to expect -- a horror flick, a spy/government secret
thriller, science fiction. My basic contention is the movie was a study
of folie a deux, a disorder in which two (or sometimes more, but
generally just two) people with a close relationship share a psychotic
delusion. While only one person in the pairing is psychotic, the other
develops psychosis -- including delusions, paranoia, even
hallucinations -- by virtue of their closeness to the psychotic person.
Often, such couple will be isolated and avoid contact with others. I
came across this phenomena years ago while researching some other
subject, and thought about it tonight while viewing the film. Aggie's
final speech about how incidents in her life have tied together with
Peter's arrival was an over-the-top example of how she now shared his
paranoia. Generally, folie a deux develops between an extremely close
couple (such as a married couple), but Aggie's loneliness, misery and
fear (due to the recent release of her con ex-husband), along with her
drinking, smoking crack, and doing blow, accelerated their feelings of
and dependence on each other.
That said, the movie started out spookily (you're paranoid from the word go) and it held my interest for about two-thirds of the time. The acting was good all around. Unfortunately, it really lagged towards the end. I kept waiting for someone from the motel to come in (probably curious about all the noise) and have them both hauled off to an institution. Or for RC to call someone. (Surely she must have realized that her friend Aggie was now certifiably nuts.) And when I saw how far gone the situation had gotten, I predicted the ending of the movie about twenty minutes before it happened. Frankly, I had lost interest in the characters at the end, but I'd still rate it a 7 for an interesting concept, energetic directing, good performances.
It's difficult to discuss William Friedkin's "Bug" because, like his
1973 classic "The Exorcist" before it, it relies on atmosphere, not
events. One can only go so far in stating the synopsis because it is a
film that demands you know the bare essentials going in.
Primarily, "Bug" concerns a woman who has seized to believe in much of anything, and what lengths she will go to believe again. It is also about the influence that one person can have on another, especially when it comes to radical beliefs. And it begs the question: can one person's reality, no matter how fantastical, become someone else's, even when this reality could be false? Agnes White (Ashley Judd, in one of her very best performances) has been living in the Rustic Motel, a rundown joint in the South West. She has been receiving mysterious phone calls from someone (she believes it is be her ex-husband Jerry, who has just been released from prison.) One night she gets a visit from her friend and sometimes-girlfriend R.C. (Lynn Collins), who has brought with her a strange man named Peter Evans (Michael Shannon). "What do you think?", asks R.C. "He may be an ex-murderer," Agnes whispers. The three drink and when R.C. goes home, Peter offers to stay. Agnes is timid at first; Peter is strangely odd and tends to talk in a monotonous voice, but he doesn't seem dangerous. He tells her he "picks up on things" and that he can tell she is lonely. She doesn't disagree, and tells him it's nice to have someone around. He speaks of his time in the Marines, about hidden machinery watching American citizens, about secret experiments, and Agnes just listens. Peter spends the night but in the morning, there is a surprise awaiting Agnes.
That is where I must stop. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the film and it was this factor that had me enjoying "Bug" so much. Besides a few clichés towards the beginning (such as the repeated phone calls) the story is gripping because of the smart but unadorned dialogue and the acting from Judd. There is a scene later in the film when Judd and Shannon are discussing different kinds of bed bugs, and the two are so quick and funny with their dialogue that it seems improvised.
But isn't this a horror film? In a way, yes. There are horror elements, but not in the sense as recent horror movie endeavors. There is hardly an horror violence; it is, for the most part, a sense of dread, and the awareness that what is happening to these two characters may not be real.
It is based on a play by Trecy Letts, who adapted his play for the screen. The structure of the film stays true to the stage version, as it, for the most, takes place entirely in a motel room. Only occasionally are we let outside, and when we are, it is from a view above in a helicopter. The helicopters, in fact, are used as a device to signal a growing threat. Very often in scenes in the motel room we hear the sound of helicopters passing by, a reminder that the characters are being watched. But are they really there, or are we hearing them through the ears of the characters? Friedkin uses harsh, warm lighting in the motel room and a mixture of shaky camera-work with static shots, sometimes letting the actors do their character work, sometimes taking the initiative to create tension. There is no visible antagonist, like there was in "The Exorcist". We are never sure if these bugs that are eventually terrorizing the two main characters are real or merely schizophrenic delusions. Whatever the answer, however, it is soon happening to the two of them and any sense of objectivity in the film is gone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Roy Orbison late in his life recorded a tune with the lyrics "Anything
you want, you got it; anything you need, you got it; anything at all
This came to mind as I was watching the new one from that veteran of
"arty" schlock, William Friedkin. It amounts to a two-character stage
play, only slightly "opened up" for cinema. Ashley Judd plays Agnes, a
barmaid who's been "self-medicating" since the disappearance of her
young son about a decade previously. Michael Shannon plays Peter, a
drifter who's introduced to Agnes by the latter's apparently only
friend, a gorgeous lesbian called R.C. (Ever notice that lesbians in
real life never seem quite as cute as those in the movies?) Most of the
rest of the movie is about the two of them going crazy together because
Agnes will do literally anything to hang on to him. Warning for horror
fans: despite the cleverly edited trailer, there are no actual bugs
here (that we can see, anyway) (except in a few hallucinatory inserts)
and very little gore (one scene will remind you of Nick Nolte
performing some home dentistry in "Affliction"). This is more like
Friedkin channeling David Lynch and Harold Pinter.
Judd is the chief reason to see this; she's so keenly on the mark (at least until the script asks her to jump off a cliff; more on this below) that after a while I was wishing I could preserve this character for a better flick. Her Agnes has a convincingly worn-around-the-edges look. She reminds me of some women I've known working in factories and whatnot, maybe not the highest IQ but they have "street smarts" and are used to fending for themselves in life, often with minimal assistance (if not abuse) from the husband/boyfriend/significant other(s). Agnes' own "ball and chain" is an ex-con named Jerry who re-appears in her life out of the blue after possibly making a series of prank phone calls to her (exactly who made the calls and why is one of the items never spelled out for us). Harry Connick Jr. is perfect as Jerry with his laid-back menace and tattooed musculature. The scenes with the two of them ring so true that they make the later histrionics with Peter (whom we can spot as a nut before he even opens his mouth; it's always "the quiet guys") seem all the more outlandish in comparison.
Here's why this ultimately doesn't work for me: Judd from "Ruby in Paradise" onwards has always emanated a kind of inner strength and core of common sense, a residual humanity that is what has always attracted me to her. Even in those potboilers from the 1990's and early 2000's she was able to transcend her often two-dimensional character and make you believe the person has existed beyond the confines of the screen. In "Bug" she is asked to betray this quality; while she's a good actress she's not quite good enough to pull this off. It doesn't help that her transition into shared lunacy is handled so jarringly; one moment she's questioning the existence of bugs that only Peter can see, the next she's sharing his hallucination of helicopters shaking the building. We know Agnes is one of the "walking wounded" but there are many such people; they mostly don't "lose it," which is why it's news when one of them does (e.g. that female astronaut). We would have needed to see right from the get-go that Agnes has a few screws loose; if Judd was showing us that, I for one missed it. (If she's as DESPERATELY LONELY as we're asked to believe, why not just let Jerry back into her life? Or why doesn't she just go find a guy, or gal? Oklahoma's not the surface of the moon, believe it or not.) From the moment we see all the fly paper hanging from the ceiling, "Bug" gets ever less buyable (and more derivative). With Peter and Agnes dissolving into a mish-mash of shrieks, screams and self-mutilation, I kept wondering where were the cops with a couple of strait-jackets. Judd's performance comes to remind one of Julianne Moore in "Freedomland": the more she hysterically emotes, the more conscious we are of watching an actress as opposed to a character; "suspension of disbelief" goes out the window. The movie's early naturalistic tone also makes the later plot holes more gaping: Why do we never see Agnes' neighbors getting alarmed (is she the only one living there?); when Jerry arrives with the alleged doctor, where is he biding his time until knocking on the door again after the murder; who ordered the pizza? If it's all just taking place inside someone's head like "Videodrome" or "Identity," what are we left with? I think Friedkin wants to have his cake and eat it too: have us accept it both as externally viewed drama and inner phantasmagoria, but as the late Dwight Macdonald pointed out, "If all the cards are wild, you can't play poker .."
To be fair, there are some nice creepy moments and foreboding atmosphere in the best "X-Files" tradition, in fact this probably would have worked better on the small screen; I wouldn't be surprised to see it available on demand on "FEARnet" in the near future. (Sometimes not having had to pay to see a film frees it up to be more likable .sometimes not.) The handful of actors all rise to the occasion. I liked the suggestion that Peter was acquainted with the late Timothy McVeigh (I won't remind you who that is; it's a shame if I need to) but such references (government conspiracies etc.) would have been more compelling if we'd heard them during Peter's earlier more lucid stage. Still it's nice to see Friedkin this late in the game working so low-budget and "balls to the walls"; I'd rather go see this again than the umpteenth "Spiderman" or "Shrek" or "Pirates" or whatever other pre-fab corporate crap comes down the pike ..
Ha ha ha ha I liked it, and I'm not laughing because I thought the film was funny, even thought I can understand how some people would laugh, I was too considerate of how the people in the film would be feeling and why they would be reacting the way they did, and didn't find it laughable. The reason I'm laughing now, is because I liked it (the film). I've read comments in the IMDb forum for Bug, and some have written comments such as "WORST FILM EVER" and "IT'S NOT A HORROR MOVIE". So I of course wondered if maybe they were right, and that I too would dislike it... but I didn't hate it, I thought it was brilliant. I can not understand how anybody could find this boring, it's anything but boring. And I would now say it was a horror movie. I don't know what to compare it to, yes maybe I do, while watching it, I could see Hitchcock, the Exorcist, Twin Peaks, for whichever reason those entered my mind a couple of times while watching. It had an old fashioned and quite beautiful way about it.
The movie "Bug", by William Friedkin, was by far one of the most intense psychological thrillers I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. It truly does make you question almost everything. It really gets inside you and makes you feel a certain sense of paranoia. I very much liked the symbol of the "bugs" themselves. The idea that the modern, everyday American can know so little but know everything at the same time, the idea that they question everything and believe so much of nothing at all. The idea of complete paranoia, thats the symbol of the bugs. It gets inside you, makes you feel uneasy, makes you almost crazy, it can even make you kill yourself. This is by far, one of the most inspiring films ever made. To many others it may be just stupid but thats only because they do not understand it truly. Thats my thought on the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow...is the first word I want to mumble! Talk about a different movie,
this was what they tried to do here with this film "BUG" and with great
success this was indeed accomplished. You never really know for certain
in this movie, if this man was really a schizophrenic or was all he
claimed real? He makes far-out claims to his only friend in the world,
who happens to be a screwed up drunkard and junkie woman (that soon
ends up being also a girlfriend) to this guy. He insists that he has
been a victim of top secret experiments! Nothing less than a human
guinea pig and example of a secret military government experiment. He
says, he has been deliberately infected and implanted with the eggs of
a supposedly high tech bug. Which is now out of control, taking over
his body and living on his blood supply. The government supposedly did
this to him as a top secret experiment on him and one other person? We
never do really hear the truth or do we? But the case is, we even might
believe that this man is (perhaps) instead very insane and
schizophrenic and imagining this entire thing???? See it, if you dare.
I can promise you this is a very strange film, but at the same time a
very strong film and very well directed. You may never know the real
truth? I can say, this man is insane and this woman also very insane!
But before this film is finally at its end, you will be wondering too,
just which story is indeed the true story? Remember we see mostly what
they (think) they see or do we? This is a dark film and as it
progresses it becomes even darker and it continues to do so up until
its twisted end. The directer and the writer both did a great job
creating this story line and making it work on film. As dark as this
movie might be, it is still done without loosing our attention to its
storyline and the presentation of the convincing talents of these
actors. I think the intention is obvious here with this film, they
wanted a strange and different tale to tell and they did a wonderful
job doing just this. "BUG" the movie is filled with total paranoid
ideas and plots all against this one man (or perhaps is it against the
entire world?) Who knows or who can really say? Go see this one and be
your own judge and jury! I have to say, this isn't the best film I have
seen, but I am glad I went to see this one to be honest, just because I
am the type of person that really likes movies that deliver some good
challenges. The directer for this film deserves an applause.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's very hard to write a review of this film that isn't full of
spoilers. Suffice to say that it's unfortunate that this is being
marketed as a horror film. While it is definitely an intense film, it
really isn't about bugs that eat people so much as it is about the
minds of the characters. The story is taut and the character
development is handled beautifully throughout, one of the advantages,
no doubt of having a small cast of experienced character actors such as
this one. The performances of that cast are nearly breathtaking at
times, particularly those of Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon who create
amazingly convincing studies of emotionally wrecked people descending
into a nightmare world of their own paranoia.
There are a few scenes of an excruciating nature that left me squirming in my seat, but overall this is a story that's set in minds. It's not soaked in blood and gore. William Friedkin has done an excellent job of bringing this play to the big screen, and I hope that people who read this review will take the time to see this movie. It's unfortunate that it will almost certainly be lost among the mediocre summer blockbusters and won't get nearly the box office that it deserves were it to earn its money solely on its own merits. I have to question the wisdom of releasing it during Memorial Day weekend and putting it into competition amongst the Spider-mans and Shrecks and Pirates of the Carribbeans. Still, if you're looking for something very different from the latest sure-fire mediocre sequel, take the hour and forty minutes to see "Bug." It's worth the price of the ticket and more.
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