An interviewer once asked Bob Dylan what he thought of the music of The Wallflowers, the rock band fronted by his son, Jakob. Ol' Bob's reply was startlingly transparent, but typically witty: "It's pretty good for what it is; it's just that what it is isn't very good."
In much the same way, Bug—directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist) and based on a stage play by Tracy Letts—is, by most accounts, a success. Certainly, when taken on its own terms, it accomplishes exactly what it seeks to accomplish, and it does so with exemplary craftsmanship and artfulness. As a film reviewer who happens to be a Christian, however, I can't help but wonder just how noble the film's goal is—or, to be more precise, how the film could be of any appeal to moviegoing believers.
Don't let the film's title and the jumpy trailers fool you; this is no horror film. Rather, it's a psychological thriller, a study of two characters slowly slipping into madness. It's claustrophobic—set almost entirely in a single motel room, true to its stage roots—and positively aching in its intense, slow-burn paranoia. It's unsettling, unnerving and, frankly, unpleasant, unrelenting in its darkness and oppressive in its dysfunction.
Those looking for scary monsters of Shyamalan-style jumps and surprises are out of luck, particularly in the first half. For an hour or so, the film crawls along at a laborious slow pace that's generally reserved for arthouse dramas. It builds either creepy tension or just plain tedium, depending your affinity for these kinds of movies.
Our protagonist, Agnes (Ashley Judd), is a waitress at a trashy lesbian honky-tonk, somewhere within the general proximity of nowhere. Her pastimes seem to include drinking and ...1