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Film / Bug (2006)

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(For other uses of the term "Bug", see the disambiguation page)

Bug is a 2006 Psychological Horror/Tragedy film based on the 1996 play by Tracy Letts (who also wrote the film adaptation), directed by William Friedkin and starring Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon.

It centers around Agnes, an extremely lonely woman living in an Oklahoma motel room after the breakup of her marriage. A friend introduces her to Peter, who is similarly lonely, and the two start enjoying each other's company. The two open up to each other and then...well...

The film and play presents us an intriguing example of folie à deux.

Not to be confused with the 1975 William Castle-produced film about mutant cockroaches.

The movie contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The post credits sequence implies that they didn't set themselves on fire, but given the schizophrenic feeling of the movie itself, its ambiguous if they did or didn't.
  • Black Comedy: A really dark take on a romantic comedy according to the film's director William Friedkin.
  • Broken Bird: Agnes. Doesn't help that she just came out of a an abusive relationship.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Peter, who believes bugs. Agnes eventually agrees with Peter.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: What Peter does to Agnes. Agnes goes from a lonely, vulnerable woman to a tinfoil plastering suicidal conspiracy theorist.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Agnes is divorced from a real Jerkass - who's in prison at the start of the movie and shows up to threaten her - and her son was stolen from a supermarket cart while she was shopping. Her overwhelming guilt and sadness leave her receptive to Peter's peculiar charisma.
  • Downer Ending: Agnes and Peter kill themselves by setting themselves on fire
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Though it’s not clear how much time passes in the film, Agnes and Peter are Driven to Suicide before the motel has time to evict them for non-payment, so it can’t cover a period of more than a couple weeks.
  • Fan Disservice: The sex scene is already awkward and unsexy, but there’s also insect imagery interspersed throughout.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: A dark variation. Agnes rejects her best friend, declares that Peter is the only thing she has, and kills herself with Peter after only knowing him a few weeks.
  • Genre-Busting: The film would normally be considered a psychological drama or thriller with horror elements while the studio promoted it as straight-up horror and the director considers it a dark romantic comedy.
  • Jerkass: Jerry; a physically abusive man who is partially responsible for why Agnes is as broken as she is.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Peter is this, to himself and others.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: Agnes and Peter use this type of reasoning to conclude how the bugs came to be and the only way to stop them.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Peter, although he doesn't appear as such first, slowly develops into this as he reveals more about his paranoid state.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Or extreme loneliness, for that matter.
  • Madness Shared by Two: A lonely, emotionally fragile waitress begins a romance with a mysterious drifter and spirals downwards into insanity as she comes to believe his theory that the government has used him in a bizarre experiment involving hatching bugs in his body.
  • Mind-Control Conspiracy: According to Peter, this is why he is on the run.
  • My Greatest Failure: Agnes feels this way about not running away from her abusive ex with her son before her son was kidnapped.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: It's nothing like the fellow Lionsgate feature Saw movies. It's more of a slow burning psychological tragedy.
  • Psycho Supporter: Agnes, albeit unwillingly. Peter isn't her first one, either.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Are the phone calls real? If they are, who's calling? One theory is it's Agnes' estranged son. Was the fire real?
  • Room Full of Crazy: The motel room slowly turns into one.
  • Sanity Slippage: Basically the plot of the movie, you watch two broken people slowly decay mentally as they believe the conspiracy theories that the government is planting bugs on people.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Peter claims to be this. It may even be true.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Peter uses a pair of pliers to rip out his molar's filling which he believes is where the "egg sac" is. Boy, it sure isn't pretty to see tons of blood pouring out of his mouth like that while screaming in great pain. Regardless, Peter and Agnes both end up seeing the "bugs" in the tooth under the microscope.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Everything in the film might be really happening. Or the characters could be heavy crystal meth users and we're seeing their delusions. Or Peter may be clinically insane and dragging Agnes into hell. You'll never know. Unless you listen to the director's DVD commentary.