My History With the Film:
I first heard about Bug sometime in 2019. It came up in a reddit discussion of overlooked horror films. Once I discovered it starred Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon, I became extremely interested in seeing it. I’m a huge Michael Shannon fan and seeing him in a film directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist) sounded right up my alley.
Sadly, it took me several years to track down a copy and once I did, I sat and enjoyed this incredible film.
What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A young woman meets a man who is convinced her hotel room is infested by bugs.
What I Liked About It:
-If I’m honest, the less said about this movie the better. If you are extremely interested in seeing it, I recommend you stop reading and just go track down a copy.
-The performances by everyone in this film are amazing, with special props going to Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon who dominate almost the entire movie. The film was adapted from a play, so it’s dialogue heavy and these two sell it. Their performances are worth it alone to see this movie.
-I can’t think of another film (outside of maybe Requiem for a Dream) that has ever felt this grimy and dirty. You watch this movie and want to go and take a shower once it ends.
-The editing and cinematography make for a claustrophobic picture where everything feels slightly off. It’s disorienting at times and really plays into the reactions of our main leads. I almost felt as if the film was interactive with the audience taking on a role inside the head our leads.
-The script is solid and the pacing is excellent outside of the first five minutes.
What I Didn’t Like About It:
-The film was shot in Louisana in July and August of 2005 and the production left just a few days before Hurricane Katrina hit the area.
-Michael Shannon has previously portrayed the role of Peter in the stage production.
-William Friedkin worked so fast that he never took more than four takes of a single scene, which is impressive considering how dialogue heavy the film is. The actors had to beg him for second takes at times, because he felt they nailed it on the first one.
-It was one of two films to receive an “F Score” from CinemaScore in 2006. The other was Nicolas Cage’s The Wicker Man.
-The film was shot in chronological order.
-According to Harry Connick, William Friedkin didn’t say “Action” and instead allowed the actors to begin when they felt they were ready.
One might could argue that Bug is not a horror film, but I tend to side with John Carpenter’s assessment that “horror is a reaction, not a genre.” This film is horrifying. In many ways, more than a lot of what passes for as “horror”. It’s scary on several levels and watching people descend into madness and mental health issues is incredibly tough to watch. In fact, as much as I enjoyed Bug, I don’t know if I’d ever watch it again.
I rate Bug at solid four out of five bloody knives and say it’s a high priority rental.