Bug - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bug Reviews

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paul o.
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2012
My high rating comes from the film's direction and the acting rather than the film's story. Director William Friedkin sets up an insane scenario for the actors and allows them to one up each other until the end. Basically, Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd are acting their hearts out in this tale claustrophobic nightmare. Bug is a dark story that may seem dumb to some but brilliant to others.
Jack Hawkins
Super Reviewer
November 10, 2012
'Bug' concerns Agnes White (Ashley Judd), a lonely woman living in a motel room who meets Peter Evans (Michael Shannon), an unnerving but apparently good willed war veteran. However Peter soon has explosions of mania, claiming conspiracy and evil government corruption.

The film is a disturbing look at total madness and paranoia, a look at how the disillusioned reason with themselves until they are driven to total and utter insanity. The final thirty minutes of this film are truly captivating, I was so engrossed by the intensity that it had ended before I knew it. It's rare that a film set in such a confined environment can be so gripping. One problem I had with the film was the rate at which Agnes is indoctrinated by Peter; it's slightly implausible considering that she seems to be a rational, measured woman.

The performances are excellent. William Friedkin's trademark ease- inducing presence shows in the lead actors' total unhinged lunacy in the final act; it takes a special working environment to unwind so completely.

It's likely to polarise audiences, but I found it a powerful, taut film that compels and disgusts you.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2008
A ballsy, ambitious little horror film that has potential but never reaches it, concerning a lonely bartender (Ashley Judd) who takes in a troubled drifter (Michael Shannon), unbeknownst to her that his problems are much more severe than she first perceives. It is no surprise that this film was originally performed on stage, as most of the events take place in a dainty motel that gives the story a claustrophobic feel. Sadly, given all the great camera work and chilling atmosphere, the plot just does not ring true at all. If this movie was going for satire or really, really dark comedy, which it hints it is given the utter ridiculousness of the finale, it fails miserably. The acting is over-the-top, but I suspect legendary director William Friedkin wanted this to be the case. For whatever reason, I could not get into it, although I will admit it had me interested as to where it all was going, the acting and some of the scenes just did not ring true, especially the change in character Ashley Judd goes through, I just did not buy it for a second. Disappointing given Friedkin's reputation, and although he gets aspects of it right, the plot just never hooks as hard as it should into the viewer, at least for me.
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2012
When Bug was released in 2006, I all but ignored it, thinking it was going to be nothing more than a cheap, straight to DVD horror flick with giant cannibalistic ants and shit. It wasn't until I took notice of actor Michael Shannon that the film resurfaced again and found it's way onto my 'to see list'. I took me a while to get a hold it though and as a result it fell off my radar again until I was reminded of it recently. Now, I'm glad to say that I have seen it and it wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be. It far exceeded my expectations.
Agnes (Ashley Judd) is lonely woman who moves into a rundown motel to escape her husband Jerry (Harry Connick, Jr) who has just been released from prison. She is introduced to eccentric drifter Peter (Michael Shannon) who seems to be hiding something and is prone to the occasional conspiracy theory. Not before long, things start to unravel as bug infestation takes over the motel room.
Based on the play by Tracy Letts and set largely within the confines of a remote rustic motel room, it's easy to see why this material would have played well on stage. It's claustrophobic atmosphere is captured straight away by Friedkin and his unsteady camerawork lends a perfect sense of unease within the characters and their confined space. It begins slowly building with a gradual pace but with the arrival of an on-edge and abusive Connick, Jr and an unsettling and creepy turn from Shannon, the pace escalates to one of unbearable and visceral intensity. This is less of a gory horror and more of a psychological, character driven chamber piece that benefits from three brilliant performances. Unsurprisingly, it's Shannon who once again stands out. He's an actor that possesses a natural intensity and this is a role that's fully suited to his abilities. In fact, it might even be Shannon's finest performance and that's saying something. However, it could also be seen as to why Shannon has now, seemingly, been type-cast as a loon-ball. Particularly impressive is Friedkin's handling of the material though and how it grips with a plot that's entirely unexpected while exploring the heavy issue of psychological trauma, emotional dependency and delusional paranoid schizophrenia. It's only towards the end that the film starts to show it's faults. It does contain a lot of ambiguity but it's rushed and plot holes do become apparent at this time. So much so that a couple of characters appear and disappear without explanation.
This will not appeal to everyone and those expecting an out-and-out horror will probably be disappointed but if you enjoy your horrors in a more cerebral, psychological fashion then this certainly delivers.
Super Reviewer
October 22, 2011
I think the misconception that people have with Bug is that they expected a straight forward horror film. Well, Bug is most certainly that, and more. After viewing it, I realized it had other genre elements such as drama, thriller and psychological mixed with body horror. At least, that's what I thought of the film. The film is a good mix of drama and psychological horror. Director William Friedkin steadily builds up the tension and in doing so, adds human emotion between the two characters. Bug is fairly underrated and doesn't deserve the flack it has received. The film is quite different from other horror films, and the thing that people expected from this film was a straight forward horror film that jumped right into the action. But Friedkin took a different route by adding other elements to the film, and it works well enough to appeal to viewers looking for something different in a horror film. The acting is good here, and the chemistry between the two leads is wonderful, and works well. There are things that could be done better, but for what it is, Bug is a totally different horror film than what has come out in recent years, and it's a refreshing take by combining elements of drama and psychological thrillers. Bug is a good film, but if you're expecting a horrifying, straight forward horror flick, you'll be disappointed. This is a different style of horror film, and I enjoyed it a good, intricate story with good acting and good directing on behalf of William Friedkin makes this a good viewing for any horror fan. The film is disturbing and scary enough at times and it doesn't deserve the negativity it has received.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
July 25, 2010
An unhinged film based on an unhinged play, "Bug" is paranoia gone wild.

"Bug" gives Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd lots of occasion to play crazy - and they rise to the occasion. Judd is a surprise, she may not have Award-winning chops, but she proves with "Bug" that she can elevate her acting above popcorn-flick, tough-ish damsel-in-distress roles.

But "Bug" belongs to William Friedkin who keeps a lot of the intimacy of the play to capture these two souls in their descent into madness. "Bug" doesn't entirely work, it's probably a bit too weird keeping audiences at arm's length - but Friedkin directs with abandon and delivers a film you probably won't ever see the likes of in a long while.
Super Reviewer
July 23, 2010
This film did not have a good plot. the whole film was not really good.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2010
When a delusional escaped mental patient holes up with a slow and extremely lonely white trash waitress, good things will not follow. Well-acted, if a bit wearying, adaptation of a stage play that traps the viewer deep in a claustrophobic web of paranoia and conspiracy theories
Super Reviewer
½ November 18, 2009
Completely original and out of its mind. The story/characters are so convincing that it makes the movie 10x better than it theoretically should have been. The dialogue was realistic and emotional, staying away from corny sappy monologues. The look of it was also really well thought out and effective. It is an addictive experience throughout, you can't wait to see and understand what is the root of the character's dilemma.
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2008
This is one of the few "horror films" that is actually an "actors film".

By that I mean the characters (there are really only four with any major screen time) are well developed, with the two leads getting the opportunity to REALLY show some range. And it is the two leads (Judd & Shannon) that really make this film work as well as it does. Which (for me) was good, solid, but not GREAT.

The film succeeds in creating a creepy, claustrophobic, manic environment. However there are moments when the environment (and the acting) seems like "too much" and starts to feel a bit over done...almost cartoonish.

There are a few "gore scenes" that felt sort of tagged on to make it more sellable as a "horror" film. But I feel like the story is intense enough that these scenes ended up cheapening it more then enhancing it.

Michael Shannon (as with Revolutionary Road) "knocks it out of the park". Few people can pull off "obsessive compulsive nut job" like Shannon. Judd is impressive as well, but not as consistently as Shannon.

All in all it is a pretty solid psychological thriller.
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2009
To be honest, I don't really know what to say about this film. It is creepy more for its seedy underbelly of a woman caught living on society's fringe (which Friedkin does an excellent job of depicting), than it is for it's final horrific half hour, which, while making me squirm (pulling your own tooth out with a pair of pliers was truly an impact moment), didn't have the emotional impact of what had gone on before.

To me, the story is more about a lonely loner type woman who seems somehow a step out of sorts with those around her. She plays kissy face with a fellow barmaid (obviously a dyke), does coke with her and her aquaintance, yet doesn't want to accompany her to a party. She is obviously bi, and yet the hints are there that it's more a statement about lonliness and trying to connect than any commitment to any kind of sexuality, other than her innate need to be dominated. Her lonliness is amplified and the signals are subtle; she seems tethered to an abusive relationship with a con who say he loves her, but it's obvious that he only loves that he can control her. You begin to wonder about her, if all the phone calls at the beginning of the film, where there is no-one there when she answers, are legit.

When the story comes out about her child's dissapearance you begin to see the cracks in her facade and that her little tough girl routine is, as the song cleverly plays in the backround, just a masquerade.

This makes the absurdity that follows at least somewhat plausable, and it is a revelation that she is just as unhinged in her own way as the lunatic who believes that his body is infested with government planted bugs.

There are times when it is obvious that this screenplay was developed out of a play, but for the most part it remains just quirky enough to hold your interest; at least until the final payoff, which is a major letdown which, I suppose, is where madness eventually leads to, but it still comes off as a contrived bit of theatre.
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2007
"Paranoia is contagious"
Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2008
A disaster on every level.
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2008
Interesting premise to look at paranoid delusions but I just didn't believe Judd's character would be taken in by the delusions of someone in a psychotic state, to the extent shown here.
Super Reviewer
October 10, 2007
Good lord, this is one of the most screwed-up movies I have ever beheld. It's coherent yet inconclusive, unified yet disorienting. It's scary because it looks so real: the characters are three dimensional, the sets are ugly and nothing special and the fantastic horror is set against a real-world backdrop of violence; something that's already scary enough. These people go crazy so slowly that it's impossible to pinpoint the spot at which you stop believing them. If you stop at all. This is really remarkable, and really bloody unnerving. The violence in it is hard to watch, it's so gritty and painful-looking.
Super Reviewer
½ May 23, 2007
This William Friedkin's gripping film is one of the very possible best movie since The Exorcist. This is a searingly intense thriller that fans of films like Naked Lunch and The Machinist should not miss. Ashley Judd does a fascinating performance as a lonely waitress who mistrust threatens to destroy her very existence.Highly recommendation!
Super Reviewer
½ December 12, 2007
Far from what I expected. One of the worst movies I have seen. This should be in the $3.99 Bin Soon. Don't say I didn't warn you. It Sux
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2007
Hah! I don't know what category this film is supposed to be in, but, I laughed so hard.
Super Reviewer
May 22, 2007
People really fucking miss the mark on this one. I think it says a lot about America's collective maturity level with the amount of complaints sounding like "It wasn't what I was expecting, so I hated it! Worst movie ever!" I mean, I'll admit - the first half an hour didn't really catch me. I started it online, had to stop, and never bothered continuing. It wasn't until I picked up the DVD that I was truly riveted.

In earnest, this is not a movie for everyone. It is probing, but emotionally exhausting and creepy in an entirely different way. Different is the key word here - Bug's great BECAUSE it's different. It doesn't take a traditional approach to horror. It puts these two people, especially poor miserable Ashley Judd, through hell and does so in the most pragmatic way possible. One scene involving a tooth, for instance, is filmed with long and deliberate shots, completely unsympathetic of the pain that both of these characters are going through. It is one of the most horrifying and powerful scenes that I've sat through in a very long time.

Bug is not a perfect movie. The ending is rushed and it could have used a more radical adaptation of the play from whence it came. More later.
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