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This movie is really starting to BUG me
Kristine3 October 2007
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.

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Intense and Unique
olsh66623 November 2006
Certainly not for everyone...but if you appreciate completely unique and intense cinema...check it out. I am so impressed by Ashley Judd, who I always liked, but had no idea of her range and courage. The film is very disturbing...I would describe it as a dark comedy that gets darker and darker and darker...calling it horror is too limited although there are horror elements to it. It reminds me of Cronenberg or early Polanski (Repulsion). But comparisons don't really do it justice. It's exciting to see that there are directors that still have guts. I was exhilarated and disturbed by the end of this film. I recommend it highly to anyone who wants something different and powerful.
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It is what it is...
NAPOLEONWILSON197911 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Many viewers have been bashing this film, and for the mainstream crowd expecting an obvious crowd-pleaser focused on one genre, I can completely understand why you didn't like the film. However, the film goes much deeper than it appears to be. Many people are expecting a horror film, and are confused by the intense monologues and the dark comedy mixed in with the self-inflicted torture and self-defense from the outside world, which are clearly characteristics of a psychological thriller. The movie was not meant to have any "heroes" or "villains", but it was meant to show everyday people in an everyday world, with one woman so lonely, so desperate to have someone who can love her, who finally finds someone who can read her, that she sets aside the fact that he is a paranoid schizophrenic who believes that someone is out to get him. After many hours and days spent together, cut off from society, she gradually becomes one with him, his madness slowly sinking into her mind as she joins him in his own delusional world. The film is not your average film, and will understandably turn off or confuse many viewers. Please note, however, that the film deals with an extremely serious illness that can't be "prettied up" or be made simpler to try and understand what's going on. It just presents itself in a straight-forward, natural form, which is usually tougher to understand and accept, much like the film.
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Freaky and Tweaky
delj28 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers

The commercials and previews for "Bug" are very very misleading. Most people go in expecting a sci-fi/horror flick. This movie has nothing supernatural or extraterrestrial about it. It's about drug induced paranoia and how insanely out of control it can get. "Bug" has more in common with "Requiem For A Dream" than say "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Essentially "Bug" was about crystal meth addiction although I can't recall the word meth ever being used. There were cocaine references but I think those were curveballs so not to point out what was really happening. Think about it. White trash can't afford cocaine but they usually can afford crank, especially if they are cooking up their own. Crank lasts much longer than coke and a user needs a lot less. That there was always some powder on the mirror is more apt to be true about speed then coke because cocaine lasts a shorter amount of time hence runs out much faster... That Friedkin didn't feel the need to show them smoking/snorting every other scene was really quite clever. Here are several major hints.

1- Meth heads are uber conspiracy theory paranoid sorts. Crystal meth destroys the brain and induces schizophrenia/paranoia. The amazing rants that they go on is very true of what full blown tweakers do. Not to mention seeing imaginary bugs and picking at themselves to the point of self-mutilation.

2- Peter's diminished sex drive and then the ability to perform as well as he does is typical of users. When Peter brings back one small muffin for each of them for breakfast that's because tweakers don't eat much. When Agnes says 'we've only been together once but I would rather just talk/listen to you than be anywhere else' is also something a speed freak would say. They're spun and they're doing the tweaker thing together.

3- Goss keeps mentioning that she's lost weight and the disheveled condition of her room is also very telling. And when Goss sees the powder he makes a comment, tastes it, but does not snort up. You really think a convict like Goss would pass up a line of coke?

4- Full blown paranoid tweakers have been known to wall paper their entire apartments/ houses with aluminum foil. That the writer used this amazing element speaks volumes.

5- Crystal meth is cooked up with bug spray and gasoline. When Doctor Sweet sits on the gasoline can, he make a comment about knowing what the gas is for. I think Friedkin was hoping that the audience would figure it out instead of scratching their heads wondering when Agnes was going to turn into a giant spider...
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Another play adaptation not to miss
Chris Knipp16 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Exorcist's William Friedkin makes a strong comeback directing Bug, the screen version, adapted by original playwright Tracy Letts, of his off-Broadway powerhouse about trailer trash paranoia that rocked the Village's Barrow Street Theater two years ago. The Barrow Street Bug didn't require any big names or high production values – the stage didn't even have a curtain – for its startling effects. Twenty dollars got you an evening of strange thinking and unpredictable behavior. The NYTimes called it "the season's wildest ride"; The New Yorker's sketch suggested it was the best play in town. This time there are new faces, all fine, though they couldn't be any better than the original stage cast. Here is Harry Connick Jr. playing Goss, a brute menace and an unwelcome surprise for Agnes (Ashley Judd, replacing Shannon Cochran in the original stage cast). Goss is Agnes' ex, turning up unannounced after two years in stir.

This obviously wasn't a play that needed a lot of opening up. Claustrophobia is one of its most essential elements. Friedkin wisely keeps his film version simple and boxed-in, adding sweaty closeups that show just how intense and brilliant the acting is, and just a couple of shots of other locales.

Agnes resides in a sleazy motel room on the edge of the desert -- which is the play's set -- and works in a bar with her lesbian friend R.C. (Lynn Collins). In the film we get a glimpse of the crowded dive. We also see the motel from outside and above. Agnes, for whom life is an obvious struggle, is tormented by the loss of her little son, who disappeared years ago in a supermarket. Later R.C. brings an odd, seemingly recessive guy named Peter (Michael Shannon) whose gradually emerging story becomes the film's/play's focus. He claims to be a Gulf War veteran. A fifth character is a man who claims to be a doctor, played by Brian F. O'Byrne.

Bug is about process, and the process is Peter's taking over of Agnes' fragile mental and physical world and the destruction of his own in a compulsive, creepy, but somehow exhilarating display of sleazy folie a deux. The insects that he sees everywhere, inside and outside, parallel the contagion of his diseased mind, which sends out invisible tendrils that envelop Agnes. Letts' astonishing dialogue metes out madness in gradually increasing doses. The fun is watching this happen and looking for transitions in the seamless and maniacally clever writing. Friedkin's filming gives a kind of lunar, hallucinatory edge and the action's intensity bursts from the screen. But all in all, nothing could outdo that evening at the Barrow Street Theater. It's surprising that the whole thing works almost as well in a movie, but where it doesn't, you realize that theater has certain powers found nowhere else.

The main US reviewers who check stuff out at Cannes and assess its commercial potential (Hollywood Reporter, Variety) think Bug is a bust. The title seems to remind them of Saw, and they judge this to be at best a cheap horror movie that can draw in an audience only through sensational trailers. That is shortsighted. Bug is horrific, but it's mainly a psychological study, executed with a wildly audacious taste for theatrical surprise and an uncanny ability to calibrate progressive character revelation. Friedkin appears to have returned to his roots here in dealing with a play and handling it with a fine minimalism. It is true certainly that an unsophisticated audience may find Bug disappointing, or too talky. But its real audience is the savvy Barrows Street kind, art house folks not unfamiliar with Beckett, Pinter, or Sam Shepard.
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Interesting movie with interesting premises, but un-enjoyable.
theglovesareoff29 May 2007
Warning: 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.
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A different William Friedkin?
Cyberlapinou3 June 2006
I was lucky enough to see the movie in a French theater showing a part of the Cannes film festival selection.

If you know William Friedkin mostly for his gritty thrillers or The exorcist, Bug might be a surprise: a single location, 5 characters, no car chase, but still a lot of ambiguity and psychological exploration.

Bug actually reminds me of the first Friedkin movies, also based on plays and more interested in character study than spectacular effects. It's all the more striking that Bug looks like a young man's movie, filled with energy, experimentation, absurd humor and a genuine sense of artistic freedom. Bug tries a lot of things, doesn't always succeed but remains an intense exercise of style. Recommanded for everybody who enjoys a good surprise.
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Effectively disturbing psychological thriller
AngryChair25 May 2007
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 ****
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How insane can the human brain be?
mario_c14 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Bug" was a surprise since I was expecting a very different movie. It takes you into a story of paranoia and illusion showing us how insane the human brain can be!

The movie was an adaptation of a theatrical play and we can notice that by the settings: almost the entire plot is passed under the same scenario (a motel room); but it only increases even more the intensity and the insanity of the story, as that room was a kind of "cradle of insanity"…

The performances of Ashley Judd (Agnes White) and Michael Shannon (Peter Evans), which play the main characters, are excellent. They can really look like insane people in this movie!

I was kind of surprised because I was expecting a "biological" movie with real bugs and horror scenes by them, but instead of that I found a crazy story about human insanity!
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Folie a deux
aliencat12 November 2006
Warning: 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.
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Exhausting modern-day horror story; Judd gives an Oscar-worthy performance
george.schmidt27 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
BUG (2007) **1/2 Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Lynn Collins, Brian F. O'Byrne, Harry Connick, Jr. Unnerving and at times precious portrayal of paranoia-induced madness based on Tracy Letts' play about an abused white-trash woman (Judd, giving an Oscar caliber performance in one of her strongest turns in years) whose life takes a drastic change when she meets a seemingly nice, haunted man (Shannon getting his ya-yas out) who isn't all he appears to be when he reveals a psychosis triggered by the delusion he is infested with 'bugs' and transfers his fears onto the gullible lover. Director William Friedkin returns to the fold as a filmmaker to be reckoned with by making the horrors more esthetic and visceral than graphic (but indulges a bit there as well) yet by the finale (if you hang in there throughout the craziness) the viewer is spent in this exhaustive yet original modern-day horror story.
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Is this the "neo-grindhouse" type of movie?
BigBabe027 May 2007
Warning: 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…..
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Ha ha ha ha, I liked it
emailathotmail7 June 2007
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.
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Utterly compelling and disturbing psychodrama...
MrGKB7 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
...lays to rest forever any derogatory commentaries on Ashley Judd's acting chops. She and co-star Michael "World Trade Center" Shannon are simply astounding in their roles of (eventually) co-dependent paranoids on an express elevator to hell. "Bug" is one of the creepiest and most unsettling of stories one could hope to watch. Why it's rated so poorly here on the IMDb (including an astonishing 13.7% "1" votes) is mystifying. I can only surmise that IMDbers were so freaked out by it that they reflexively expressed their unease disproportionately. That, and there are no explosions or special fx or action sequences to be had.

"Bug" strikes me as one of the best stage-to-screen adaptations I've ever seen, and I say that without ever having seen the play! Steppenwolf Theatre alumnus Tracy Letts really hit the mark with this one, and director William "guess" Friedkin was the perfect choice to bring Letts' vision of loneliness and paranoid fear to claustrophobic life. "Bug" deserves a far wider audience than the IMDb vote tally indicates it's gotten, let alone its picayune (though profitable) box office.

"Bug" is, at its core, a cautionary tale about the dangers of isolation and loneliness, compounded by drug and alcohol abuse. It details the meeting of two broken spirits and their eventual destruction, drawing the viewer in like an automobile accident you can't tear your eyes away from. Superbly acted (Michael Shannon originated his role on stage), dynamically shot by Michael "The Dead Girl" Grady, impeccably edited by Darin Navarro, and scored by Brian "Rambo" Tyler, "Bug" is a must-see for any aficionado of films that plumb the darker depths of the human psyche. The only real criticism of it I might have would be the Act III appearance of Dr. Sweet, not because of Brian F. "The New World" O'Byrne's acting, which is ensemble perfect, but because of the character's seeming disregard for the obvious danger posed by his patient. Beyond that, there's not a false note to be found.

Outstanding psychodrama.

Edit: a recent rewatch reminded me I overlooked mentioning the fine support of Harry "Memphis Belle" Connick, Jr. as the heavy, and Lynn "John Carter" Collins flexing her chops. 11.05.12
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Intensely psychological...yet no one seems to get it....poss. spoiler
gatorblueyes29 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I don't know what it is about this movie weather people were being misled into believing it was a "horror" film or if it was too cerebral for anyone to understand resulting in everyone being so disappointed. Either way, I feel like I was one of very few in the theater who "got it" and really enjoyed it. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I want to see it again.

You put together a paranoid schizo who is completely delusional and a tormented drug addict and this is the bizarre outcome. I have had to interview plenty of paranoid schizophrenics and I found this story to be very believable and therefore intense and mesmerizing. The actors were amazing in this film, both developing their characters and making them extremely real. This was all about their mental status and how they fed off each other to create this paranoia. Believe it or not, this really happens to people and I can only guess that the general public is too oblivious to appreciate this great film for what it is...a delve into the psyche of those who are broken. I say go see it. Appreciate it for its raw insight.
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How did I watch this entire movie?
kellytokarz5 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I usually like all things creepy, and it gives me the warm fuzzies inside when a movie as a non-typical ending. I like when the bad guys win or when the protagonist is actually crazy because it's a break in the mold from happy sappy endings Hollywood typically shits out.

But when the main characters doused themselves in gasoline and lit themselves on fire, I couldn't help but feel scammed. I was hoping for a grand conspiracy or something...not everyone in the story dying, whom we were suppose to sympathize with.

If anything this movie taught me a lesson; don't sit through a lackluster movie hoping for an ending to leave you satisfied. Hence the extra star.
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A Different Kind Of Horror Film...
Robert Lancto18 June 2007
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.
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"BUG" - Different & dark, but still see this film...
Angel-X5 June 2007
Warning: 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.

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Not worth the match it would take to set the reel on fire!
scottys200425 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film belongs in the "call my dentist, I'd much rather have a root canal" category. My wife and I attended this film, ignoring the fact that the usher had told us people were walking out on this movie in droves, and there were more than a few asking for a refund. We had already paid, and I thought, "How bad could it be"? I, and the three other people (including my wife) in the theater soon found out.

I love Ashley Judd. She is a superb actress. Harry Connick Jr. is a name actor/musician, but neither they, nor any actor on the planet could make this film enjoyable for me. Aside from these two names, you won't recognize anyone in this film. One of the main reasons is there are only three or four scenes that take place outside of the hotel room, and there are a total of five billed actors/actresses in the film. In addition, this movie is about paranoia in its most schizophrenic form, and the director of the film follows suit.

The story starts off boring enough… uh, I mean in the standard character developmental stage, but then it spirals downward into a twisted mess. The story/director are attempting to make you think, but really only annoy you with childish and transparent plot twists. The agonized guilt ridden mother is so easily manipulated that you want to retch your incredibly overpriced popcorn onto the screen. How, in this day and age, does a transient become significant part of your life in a couple of hours? Well, just watch Agnes White (Ashley Judd) forsake everything in her life for an ex-military transient who is so psychotic that he actually believes he has bugs in his teeth, planted by, you guessed it, Uncle Sam! Now it's bad enough that this character is that paranoid, but somehow, he is able to transfer this paranoia to our Heroine… speaking of which, they are using various drugs throughout the film. Not being a drug user I have to ask the question, do drugs make you this crazy? (SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER)

So, after all is said and done… our antagonist completes the psychotic paranoid transference to our protagonist… they come to accept their fate, and actually relish the fact the "bugs" (that do not exist of course) are their offspring… it is here they decide to pour gasoline (which has been inside the hotel room for hours, maybe days) over their bodies and burn themselves alive. Okay, it is here that I am actually happy because this film is OVER. The thing I like best at this point is that Agnes White (Ashley Judd) seems to realize how crazy this is in her final second of life and actually gasps when the flame is lit.

So there you go. If, after all this, you still want to see this movie I'm thinking you must be a masochist, but hey, to each his own. Maybe I'm the one that's crazy. Maybe this is the best film of all time. If you're in to the "12 Monkeys" or "Jacob's Ladder" type of films, you'll probably love this film. Me, I'd rather douse myself in gasoline and set myself on fire… oh wait, is that plagiarism?
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The only way to know is to read it
Josh Dawson30 May 2007
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.
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dbdumonteil3 October 2009
I've never been a Friedkin fan and I can live without an "Exorcist" DVD.

"Bug" depicts another kind of possession ,and it shows paranoia as few other movies did (Polanski did it in "the tenant " in 1976).The performances are great ;Ashley Judd plays a part few of her peers would dare: she is matched every step of the way by Michael Shannon .Both,towards the end,reach the extreme limit and their shouting voices are hardly intelligible.From the very start,Judd seems jaded,tired of the world,with no reason to live .

Even when you feel safe,you know there's an impending menace ;today we live in a world where nobody can say "it won't happen to me" .The Army experiments (a subject which was already broached in the brilliant "Jacob's ladder" ) are only an alibi ,and anyway,are they real?We see danger where there isn't any and we swallow a pill to soothe our fears .One blip (here a tiny bug) is enough to bring everything grinding to the halt... or to trigger madness ,a madness which will know no bounds .
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A Brilliant Screen Adaptation That Will Be Lost Among the Blockbusters
w00f25 May 2007
Warning: 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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This is not an ordinary horror film...
Dave (freaky_dave)27 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
...But more of a psychological drama dealing with two people who are slowly going insane.

Most people who see this movie looking for the average horror film will not be happy. This is a movie about two people who have serious mental issues, and allow their paranoia to get the best of them. Yes there are a couple gruesome scenes, but nothing more excessive than that.

William Friedkin, the director of the Exorcist, gives us a movie which could be seen as a metaphor for the United States and our gripping fears of terrorism. It is very anti-government, and an impressive film all together.

We are introduced to two characters who already have some mental issues, and when they get together, those issues build slowly and then become more excessive and dominant. The performances by both Ashley Judd (Agnes) and Michael Shannon (Peter) were impressive to say the least.

At first the delusional Peter alone believes that bugs (you can use terrorism as a metaphor for the bugs) implanted by the government into his body, are the cause of all their problems. Ashley is a little hesitant at first, but being alone for so long has taken its toll and she is soon accepting his delusions as her own. She is quickly drawn into Peter's paranoia web, believing everything that he says. This soon builds to utter chaos as both their mental breakdowns take over their lives. This leads to and ending that will surprise some or disappoint some. It's a matter of opinion.

I thought this was an effective movie about paranoia and the human mental condition. It also shows to what lengths some people will go to not be alone anymore. I thought the ending was a little weak when compared to the rest of the film, but this is still a good psychological drama that reminded me somewhat of Roman Polanski's Repulsion which was released back in the sixties. Yes I would recommend it, but people shouldn't go in expecting to see a simple horror movie. This film goes a lot deeper, and will creep into your bones if you think about it too long.
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a gem that may get overlooked
ashweb25 May 2007
What a fantastic surprise! We saw this as a compromise between Spiderman (my husband) and Away from Me (me), and we LOVED it. And who knew? 70+-year old Friedkin, the one-hit-wonder who did The Exorcist? What a stroke of genius that he pushed to adapt this play AND insisted on hiring Michael Shannon, who played the character off-Broadway. This has to be Ashley Judd's best performance yet, and it's a little bit too bad b/c many people won't view it that way. Michael Shannon, Judd and Harry Connick, Jr. are incredible at portraying "crazy." An interesting peek into the world of a paranoid schizo. Lots of people in the audience didn't "get it," so if you don't appreciate an artful, "small," shoestring budget thriller, don't go. (I felt the same about Black Snake Moan, although an entirely different movie. Lots of people thought it was just strange. It was wonderful.)
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Do we really like these people...
tv-striker2 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I found this to be a troubling movie.

Half way through I began asking myself if I really cared about these characters. Peter was distant and undefined. Agnes was vague. Jerry seemed convenient. RC was somewhat defined but with no background. Sexuality was all over the board. It wasn't clear whether this dealt with gay, bi-sexual, or even asexual people.

I kept thinking this was going to turn out to be a "real" science fiction story where the "horror" was the reality. Yet, it doesn't seem to have ended up that way.

Instead, we have two delusional people feeding off and increasing their delusions from each other. Problem is that we don't really see Agnes' delusion. Peter's is somewhat familiar in the "big conspiracy" genre, but there is no feel for where Agnes' delusion lies. She lost her son. She's lonely but really doesn't seem to be. It seems too convenient. The conflict with her ex is contrived.

As far as performances are concerned, all the performers are suburb. Their intensity is mesmerizing. It keeps the interest in the film going even if the direction seems to change.
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