Bug (2006)

MAY 27, 2007


Before I begin rambling, I'd like to offer you, dear reader, a bit of dialogue from Bug that I particularly liked (and have probably misquoted):

“Don’t kill crickets, it’s bad luck.”
“Who said that?”
“I don’t know, probably a really smart cricket.”

I love lines like that.

William Friedkin gets a lifetime pass from me. Not because of The Exorcist, a film I’ve never loved as much as a horror fan “should”. No, because he made one of the small handful of Chevy Chase films in which he actually had to ACT a bit. That film would be Deal of the Century, a 1983 comedy/drama about arms smugglers. Chase is more or less the straight man in the film, and is pretty good actually. As the world’s number 7 or so fan of Chevy, I appreciate when a director takes a chance on Chevy as an actual actor (coincidentally, one of the others is John Carpenter, who, like Friedkin, is forever coasting on his 1970's horror classic) rather than just have him fall down and act like a moron.

Deal was a dud in its day, probably because it was marketed as a regular Chevy comedy. I bring that up because, well, I like to reference Chevy whenever possible, but also because Bug is also being totally mismarketed. It’s barely a horror movie at all, it’s a psychological thriller. So if you go in expecting a full blown horror flick about bugs, you are bound to be disappointed (though there is a scene that rivals anything in Hostel or Saw for extreme “GAH!”-ness). Also, be warned: the film is based on a play.

A Few Good Men. And uh… that might be it for films based on plays that are actually good (not counting musicals). So many of them fail to actually make their film CINEMATIC, which is the entire point of taking them off the stage and onto the screen in the first place! Bug mostly fails to do this either. The film only has about 6 scenes in it, all in one room, where characters come and go. I didn’t even know it was based on a play, but I successfully guessed it was less than halfway through. Friedkin and DP Michael Grady pull off some effective and interesting camerawork, considering the obvious limitations, but as a whole, the film fails to escape its stage trappings.

Not that it’s bad, not at all. The acting is great (been a fan of Michael Shannon since Pearl Harbor, which is a real testament to his acting ability and screen presence), the story is interesting, and the uncomfortable nature of the film, particularly in the first hour, is top notch filmmaking. But it sort of unravels near the end, with the actors delivering nonstop monologues that are probably exhilarating on the stage, but onscreen they just drag. And the lack of answers in the end is a bit frustrating. Whether you think he really is bugged or just plain crazy is up to you, and the film offers more or less equal evidence for both. But there is no dual explanation for Dr. Sweet, or the helicopter that occasionally makes the room look like it is the victim of a localized earthquake.

Oh well. I still recommend the film. I can guarantee it’s the only film this year that will offer Ashley Judd’s breasts AND Michael Shannon’s bush.

What say you?


  1. allow me to offer you another slice of amazing dialouge!!!!!

    "the sign outside says 'vacancy' and 'no vacancy', not 'possibility of vacancy!'"

    utter crap.

  2. yeah it's more a movie for folks who like dialogue and things like that in their movies. Not people who like Troll 2, for example.

  3. this movie really freaked me out, one of the few in my life that gave me nightmares. I woke up slapping bugs off myself for several nights after watching it.

  4. Just watched this one (I tend to do that, watch a movie + go back to see if you reviewed it) and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Definitely not marketed well, was expecting an infestation movie and not sure why I initially chose to watch it. Found the the delusions of a Paranoid Schizophrenic & a coke/ crack addict while holed up in a small space to be an interesting basis for a story. Also a fan of Michael Shannon looking him up on IMDB, it looks like he was also in the play.

    2 points I have to bring up though:
    1. Whenever a war vet hears a helicopter and there is a shot of a ceiling fan I immediately cry "ripoff!!!!!" (well, not out loud).
    2. Why was Dr. Sweet hitting her crack pipe?


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