“Bug,” review by Susan Granger
If you were expecting a disturbing horror movie or creature-feature, think again. This adaptation of a bizarre Off-Broadway play buzzes along like a bad drug trip.
Cocktail waitress Agnes White (Ashley Judd) lives in a seedy motel in the middle of Western nowhere, answering an incessantly and ominously ringing phone, dreading the day that her abusive ex-con husband, Jerry Goss (Harry Connick Jr.), will appear and torment her about how she, inexplicably, lost their son Lloyd in a supermarket.
Her tattooed lesbian lover R.C. (Lynn Collins) brings by Peter Evans (Michael Shannon), a shy, pleasantly polite Southern drifter with whom Agnes falls into bed. Soon after shes smoked another roach and consumed another vodka and Coke, Peter confides his paranoid conspiracy theories about being the subject of a secret governmental medical experiment gone awry in which his body was infested with blood-sucking aphids i.e.: bugs. Amazingly, he persuades Agnes that her body has been contaminated too. So they stock up on every insect repellent on the market, covering the floor, walls and ceiling with aluminum foil, and go into homicidal panic when Peters doctor (Brian OBryne) shows up on the doorstep.
Using Tracy Letts screen adaptation of his avante-garde play, director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) allows characters to indulge in tiresome, repetitive and seemingly endless monologues never opening the psychological concept beyond the confines of a filmed stage production. The actors babble incessantly about imaginary creepy crawlies, none of which are ever seen on-screen. The performances are convincing, especially hunky Harry Connick Jr., who never gets involved in the buggy nonsense. But Friedkins direction is over-indulgent and his taste for gruesome gore seems insatiable. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Bug is a reprehensible, repugnant 2. Pretentious poppycock!