Dir. William Friedkin
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
If paranoia is contagious… Then I’m freaking, I'm jumping like a jumping jack and dancing screaming, itching, squealing, fevered, feeling… hot hot hot!!!
And you will be too if you take this express elevator to insanity. Bug sees Director William Friedkin evoking the genius he hasn’t showed for 30 something years – it’s a horror / thriller / mindbend of the highest order… That’s obviously a subjective experience but if you’re on the market for a metaphoric descent into the mind of a weirdo (perhaps that’s why you’re reading Darkmatters anyway?)...
Bug should be your next stop…
You could say that this is a riff on post-traumatic stress disorder but the harrowing tale of what happens when nutjob loser Peter (Michael Shannon) meets lonely waitress Agnes (Ashley Judd – giving the performance of her career) in a cheap motel is a glimpse into the very mouth of madness…
With an ominous ringing phone – a certain harbinger of creeping doom – we get to see a love story between two intensely damaged individuals… swapping dialogue like - Peter: I am the drone, to which Agnes replies: I am the mother queen.
In fact here’s my favourite scene which will give you taste:
Peter: You want to know what's going on? All right, then you listen to me, you listen to what I'm going to tell you, because you don't know the… enormity of what we're dealing with here…
Agnes: I'm listening…
Peter: May the 29, 1954, a consortium of bankers, industrialists, corporate C.E.O.'s and politicians held a series of meetings over three days at the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, Holland. They drew up a plan for maintaining the status quo…
Agnes: What is that?
Peter: It's the way things are. It's the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer…
Agnes: All right.
Peter: They devised a plan to manipulate technology, economics, the media, population control, world religion, to keep things the way they are. They have continued to meet once a year, every year, since that original meeting. Look it up.
Peter: Under their orders, the C.I.A. had smuggled Nazi scientists into the States to work with the American military at Calspan, developing an inner-epidermal tracking microchip…
Peter: A surveillance tool, a computer chip implanted in the skin of every human being born on this planet since 1982. An early test group for the prototype was the People's Temple, and when the Rev. Jim Jones threatened to expose them, he and every member of his church were assassinated… But it wasn't enough just to track people, to spy on them, they wanted control. They created the Intelligence Manned Interface biochip, a subcutaneous transponder, a computer chip imprinted with living brain cells. They needed lab rats to test it, and they found us: me, in the gulf, and another soldier working at Calspan at the time: Tim McVeigh.
Agnes: Oh, no, wait…
Peter: They turned us into… zombies, remote control assassins, then picked Tim up, chucked him in a prison factory. But I found my chip and cut it out, so they sent me back to the lab for further testing and a new experiment… They can't get to everybody, people slip through the cracks, or find the chip and remove it, like me, or Ted Kaczynski. They need a chip that will self-perpetuate, that will spread, like a virus, that people can pass to each other, to everyone.
Good stuff huh?
So having escaped her abusive ex-husband Goss (Harry Connick Jr.) who’s recently been released from prison and is on his way back to her, Agnes – who is still vulnerable having lost her six year old son (how, we’re never quite sure), is at a very low ebb when Peter and his bug infested blood turn up…
Bug is the closest thing you can get to experiencing an on screen insanity inducing claustrophobic nightmare which merges delusion with reality as bugs begin to disrupt the lives of Peter and Agnes...
It’s not a happy story, but this is an important film and a worthy headline entry into the Darkmatters ‘BUG SEASON’…
DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10):
Endorphin Stimulation: ööööööö (8)
- Bug will ransack your head
Tasty Action: öööööö (6)
- More a slow burner but there are some flashpoints
Gratuitous Babeness: öööööö (8)
- Ashley Judd does white trash with style
Mind Blight / Boredom: öööööö (6)
- This is going to freak some people out (alot)
Comedic Value: öööööö (6)
- The funnies dry up once the bugs move in
Arbitrary final rating: öööööööö (9)
- Powerful and desperately sad, this is a must see film
Liable to make you:
"try to extract your own teeth with pliers to make sure there aren’t any bug nests in them…"
DM Poster Quote:
“Oh – I like it when that lightening comes – yes I like it a lot…"
"Matt's new skinwork wasn't a hit with his wife"