Bug (2006)

What happens when desperation and mania collide? This is the central theme of Bug, a truly psychological horror film.

Agnes White (Ashley Judd) has a lousy life. She lives in a dingy motel room in Oklahoma; she smokes, drinks, and does cocaine; she makes a meager living as a waitress at a lesbian bar with her gay friend R.C. (Lynn Collins); and her abusive ex-husband Jerry Goss (played with casual menace by Harry Connick Jr.) just got out of prison and is pushing himself back into her life.

Enter Peter Evans (Michael Shannon), a quiet, slightly odd loner who quickly becomes an awkward friend, then lover, to Agnes. At first he seems like someone that's good for Agnes -- until the bugs. After Peter wakes up complaining of bug bites, he quickly becomes with the bugs that no one else can see -- and he soon brings Agnes into his obsession. The motel room is transformed into something alien, Peter and Agnes isolate themselves more and more, and the conspiracy theories behind the unseen insects become more and more elaborate.

Bug is based on a play, and the action (almost exclusively in the motel room) and small cast (only five main actors) reflect this. The pacing is very slow in the beginning, which is initially tough to sit through but leads to the basis for what comes at the end. Director William Friedkin (best known for The Exorcist) brings out the best in his actors, setting the groundwork of madness that makes the film's screaming finale very believable. Bug starts off slow, but it proves to be an engaging horror film.

Overall grade: B+

Reviewed by James Lynch

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