“Bug,” review by Susan Granger

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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 she’s 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 Peter’s doctor (Brian O’Bryne) 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 Friedkin’s 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!

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.