Critics Consensus

Disappointing resolution aside, Bug uses its claustrophobic setting and cinéma vérité camerawork to tense, impressive effect.



Reviews Counted: 130

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Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 2.5/5

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Movie Info

A lonely waitress with a tragic past, Agnes rooms in a run-down motel, living in fear of her abusive, recently paroled ex-husband. But, when Agnes begins a tentative romance with Peter, an eccentric, nervous drifter, she starts to feel hopeful again--until the first bugs arrive.

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Ashley Judd
as Agnes White
Michael Shannon
as Peter Evans
Neil Bergeron
as Man in Grocery Store
Bob Neill
as Pizza Harris
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Critic Reviews for Bug

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (43)

It starts off like a horror film, or like a modern-day Tennessee Williams piece and then transmutes into ... something very different indeed.

Nov 17, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Beat by beat, Bug is gripping: It has that feverish compression of great theater, but director William Friedkin gets inside it, so it's never stagy.

May 29, 2007

This is a movie about the dangers of letting love rob you of your reason and cut you off from the world, and, bugs in the bloodstream or not, who hasn't been there?

May 25, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon (who reprises his stage persona) never allow us to categorize the main characters as one-dimensional nut jobs but two emotionally fractured souls who retreat into paranoid delusion.

May 25, 2007 | Full Review…

Bug won't get under your skin as much as it will assault you with its ghastly claustrophobic drama and over-the-top performances.

May 25, 2007 | Rating: 2/4
USA Today
Top Critic

The cheesy soundtrack and the lacklustre acting undermine [director Friedkin's] efforts at turning an intelligent play into a scary movie.

May 25, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bug

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.

paul oh
paul oh

Super Reviewer

'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.

Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer


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.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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