Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 185: Bug (2006) - Rank 4/5


When my friend Bennett saw I was about to watch this film, he remarked: "A good movie, but you'll never want to see it again." In retrospect, I believe he's right. This is more of a downer than William Castle's production of "Bug," and that thing certainly has its bleak and claustrophobic moments. However, the two films bear only one thing in common: the title. Castle's "Bug" was a dark animal attack film that works well as 1970's drive-in schlock. As for William Friedkin's film that brings Tracy Lett's bizarre stage play to life...well, let's just say that if you used "Requiem for a Dream" as a deterrent for those considering a drug habit, "Bug" is what you show the addicts while they recover in detox.

Simply put, the movie is an endearing love story between an abused and drug abusing woman and a paranoid schizophrenic drifter. Agnes (an almost unrecognizable Ashley Judd), clearly has dependency issues, for she seems to quietly cling to her jailbird husband, Jerry (Harry Connick Jr.) despite her verbal abuse of him and his physically abusive retorts. When Peter comes along and deters her husband, she stays by his side, regardless of the fact that he seems to slowly be going insane. He begins to believe that there are microscopic bugs living in his blood stream that exit the skin for air and burrow back in. At first Agnes is skeptical, but then she begins to "see" them. Whether she truly sees them at first or she pretends to out of fear of losing Peter is uncertain, but as time progresses, she succumbs to Peter's hysteria and begins to "see" the bugs too. Before you know it, the two are ambling around a foil-ensconced bedroom, their bodies riddled with bleeding sores produced by their ever-itching fingernails.

Though the film is tough to classify into a predetermined genre, it could reasonably be considered a "paranoia film." However, the story is unique from many of its predecessors, such as Polanski's "Apartment Trilogy" in the sense that the paranoia is not brought on by outside influences (despite "outside forces" being the one thing that Agnes and Peter fear the most), but by internal sources - the mind. During the majority of the film, the two are essentially along - a brief appearance by Peter's shrink, Dr. Sweet, in the final twenty minutes marks the only, true individual to show up and heighten their paranoia. The rest is self-inflicted, as are Peter and Agnes' many wounds. One particularly disgusting scene features Peter trying to tug a molar out. Unlike most movie violence, the tooth does not pop right out. He tugs and wrestles with it for over a minute on camera, making you realize what a painful task it would be to do to yourself. Excellent writing, direction and acting keep you hooked to the screen until the film finishes, but it's so visceral and absent of any hope that it doesn't make it a repeat view.

Watch the Trailer

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