Directed by William Friedkin
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Disappointment. Bewilderment. Anger. Those were the feelings overheard in theatres once the end credits of Friedkin’s latest cerebral assault on the senses, Bug, had begun to roll. Man, the audience I watched it with was pissed! They thought they were getting a movie about insects attacking and feasting on Ashely Judd. In retrospect that would have made a good movie too, and I’m sure there are millions of folks out there including myself who would pay cash to watch it. Instead, Friedkin delivered us a film about love and paranoia taken to the extreme.
Meet Agnes White (Judd). She’s your average everyday white trash woman seeking refuge in drugs, alcohol, and any man who doesn’t remind her of her piece of shit husband (Connick). One day her friend introduces her to the new guy in town, Peter Evans (Shannon), and it seems as if her luck has changed. Man, did it ever! For the worse. Agnes and Peter fall quickly in love, but there’s just one hitch — Peter is a fucking loony-toon who thinks his body is the breeding ground for millions of aphids — tiny green bugs with a lot of bite. Or is he sane? Before you can swing a fly swatter, both he and Agnes start developing welts, bruises, and bleeding bites. Are they self inflicted? Maybe there are other forces at work here, like the United States Government (lord knows Bush has been bugging us all for years).
The events in Bug unfold as if we’re in the front car of the crazy train while it’s going express to Nutty-ville. This is where Friedkin shines the most. No one does this kind of stuff better, and by the time the film ends, you’ll find yourself completely exhausted and totally worked over mentally. It’s one hell of a ride, man. There is no safe place to get off. Holy shit.
The supplemental materials make up an equally enjoyable trip. Things start off with a commentary by Friedkin that is just as interesting as the film itself. There’s no question about it; this man is a living legend in the filmmaking community. Listen to him and it’s easy to understand why. Still want more? I know I did. The next bit of extra goodness comes in the form of a twenty-seven minute long interview called (what else?) A Discussion with William Friedkin. This, folks, is pay-dirt! While the commentary featured William primarily discussing Bug, here he gets to let loose on other subjects such as how filmmaking and audiences have changed over the years. Ever wonder what it would be like to hear him talk about movies like Saw? Wonder no more. It’s all here, and it’s all fascinating.
From there we get a twelve-minute look at the genesis of Bug as it made its transition from play (which this film is extremely faithful to right down to the dialogue) to the big screen and everywhere in-between. Really good stuff. Sadly though … that’s it. While the features cover a decent amount of ground, I can’t help but feel that only the surface has been scratched. Maybe there will be a welcome double dip in the future.
Having seen the play before the movie, my biggest fear was that Judd and Shannon would play it Hollywood safe and not take the subject matter to the extremes that they needed to go to. I’m happy to say with Friedkin at the helm Bug went to those extremes, and even a bit beyond them. While Bug certainly isn’t for everyone, I’m sure it will find an audience on DVD that, much like those dreaded aphids, will eat up every second of it! Gotta run! It’s time to hang the bug lamps and break out the tin foil! Shit’s about to heat up!
4 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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