“Bug” starring Ashley Judd as Agnes and Michael Shannon as Peter is a very bizarre thriller/horror movie.  Ashley Judd brings out the best of her abilities and works wondrously with Michael Shannon, you’d think these two were married in real life.  The story involves paranoia and how one person can influence the life of another person by mannerisms, gestures, words, and abuse.  As Ashley struggles with her own sanity involving her ex-husband Goss and his abusive ways, played by an underrated Harry Connick Jr., and juggling her new beau Peter, one wonders who’s more paranoid, the abuser, or the “gentle” drifter.

Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon worked well together. I believed the chemistry these two displayed.  It was great to see how their characters developed throughout this movie.  Shannon’s Peter, is a Gulf War veteran, and is a very paranoid individual who thought he was being watched and manipulated while in the war.  Upon coming home, he’s a drifter just looking to meet someone to talk to and be friendly with.  Judd’s Agnes is a woman trying to escape her troubled past, including a bout with her abusive ex-husband just paroled from prison.  There’s a minor subplot involving her missing child and how she needs to get past that issue too.  Agnes gets introduced to Peter at her job (she’s a waitress at a bar) by a friend. The rest, we shall say is history. Agnes now has two men in her life.  Each man in her life has his own issues to deal with, internally and externally. There is no balance in her life with men at all. As Agnes falls ever deeper for Peter, and starts pushing away Goss, we see a switch in the pattern of the two males. Peter starts getting more and more paranoid about “bugs” in his bodily system, and Goss seems to be wavering on the sidelines waiting and wanting Agnes back like a sad puppy dog.  One terrific scene involves Peter and Agnes as her entire room is cellophaned and/or tinfoiled so that no one will be able to “bug” her place.  She’s taking on the personality of a bug as she cocoons her house to live like one. Peter’s growing paranoia is starting to affect Agnes.  Soon, the mannerisms that Peter displays eventually falls onto Agnes as well. There’s plenty of blood, including one with a crazy pliers-in-the-tooth scene.

The acting is terrific, and I hope that when the Oscar-nominations are out, that Ashley Judd’s name is in it. I highly doubt it will be as this type of movie will probably be pushed to the side.  The scene where Judd, at the end of the movie, is talking to Peter about who’s fault it was letting the bugs in her place, and finally coming to the realization on who it was, was simply astonishing.  She goes from paranoid to crazy in 60 seconds flat.  Michael Shannon’s work is fascinating too as we get to see his character develop from a simple loner to a loose cannon, delusional individual.  He exudes a passion for his work and it shows, especially when his delusions are starting to get worse as he’s looking through a microscope and pricking his finger, dropping his blood onto the glass and coming to a realization about it. He goes from calm to downright scary and crazy.  It was great to watch the acting of these two, how they go from calm to delusional, to an ending which I didn’t see coming.

The directing by William Friedkin, (the man who brought us the classic movie, “The Exorcist”) is nothing short of sensational. His perfect timing for capturing the mood of the movie and the development of the characters is fascinating. The scene where Judd starts to twitch and swoosh her hand away in front of her face as she’s in the background, while the scene was obviously played to show Shannon’s range, is spectacular. Her gestures and facial ticks became evident throughout the movie and Friedkin didn’t skip a beat on it. He wanted the audience to see the shot.  Friedkin’s masterful direction shouldn’t be missed on nomination morning.

The story is filled with terrific acting and directing and is a marvel to see. I went in with the expectation of seeing a certain type of movie, and came out with a different perception. The reality of this is, it can actually happen. You’ll know what I’m talking about upon viewing. It’s a scary movie, with very believeable performances.  This movie is highly recommended.  Sit back and enjoy!