Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: William Friedkin
Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr.
William Friedkin returned with another stellar horror installment that initially flew under the radar. BUG is a chilling film that dives into the darkest, dankest crevices of the human psyche, and squirms. While trailers were deceptive, and redefined the term ’teaser’, the film itself exceeds expectations with the greatest of ease. For those with a fear of bugs, do not fear Bug. For those with a fear of the complexities that lie in our minds, mental instabilities and enigmas that cannot be solved, fear Bug. Schizophrenia, paranoia and claustrophobia have rarely been brought to the big screen with such startling effectiveness. This is one of the creepiest films to hit the market in ages.
Friedkin, (The Hunted, Jade, The Exorcist) who’s known for his approach to realistic yet shocking horror, may have nearly outdone himself with this effort. The cinematography and lighting are absolutely magnificent and create a thick sense of anxiety from the very opening frames. Friedkin utilizes camera angles and shadowing to create unexpected moments of tension and despair. The sets and surroundings are limited, and given the script; I would say rightfully so. The real scares come not from a fright filled stage, but from the inner recesses of the lead characters’ mind’s.
Ashley Judd is all too believable as Agnes White, a woman with a dark past avoiding an abusive ex-husband, who befriends the paranoid delusional drifter Peter (Michael Shannon) Evans. Shannon sets the tone of the movie almost immediately. Splendidly awkward, and frighteningly hysterical at times; Peter drags Agnes into a chaotic world of extreme dementia. Convinced that he has been the guinea pig for a secret medical experiment, Peter becomes more rash and unpredictable as the film unfolds. Power of suggestion begins to get the better of the already vulnerable Agnes White, and she too, soon finds herself in a drastic downward spiral. Sanity evaporates at an alarming speed as two strangers plummet helplessly toward a predictable, but highly disturbing climax.
Bug is not a monster movie, a gore fest, or another cliché slasher flick. This film goes above and beyond simplistic visual ‘scares’ and nestles itself deep inside our own insecurities. In a market overrun by trendy teen casts, multi-million dollar special effects and highly elaborate sets, Bug reminds viewers that sometimes fear lies right here, within our own hearts and minds.