Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BUG (2006) - William Friedkin

Bug is a Friedkin horror movie that actually disturbs me, even after a second viewing. There are some laughs, but they are not broad. They are queasy, awkward laughs and mostly derive from Michael Shannon's insanely committed performance. His character, Peter, wriggles under your skin like one of his imaginary government aphids. Shannon opens his desperate brain up for autopsy and lets the viewer burrow right in. Ashley Judd's not bad either, maybe better than she's ever been (yes, I'm counting Ruby in Paradise). She's fearless in going down a rabbit hole of paranoia with Shannon, keeping pace every mad step of the way. Even Harry Connick, Jr. is a surprisingly menacing in what could have easily been another token abusive boyfriend role.

The claustrophobia of one room hotel setting helps tremendously, especially when it is covered in wall-to-wall tinfoil. Friedkin knows how to open up Tracy Letts' play for a little cinematic breathing room. The fact that most of the horror in Bug comes from the flailings of a textbook schizophrenic mind and not from The Devil is why it hits harder than The Exorcist does for me. You pass by guys like Peter every day in the street or on the subway. Devil sightings are a little harder to come by.

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