This Bug's Strife: William Friedkin, director of movies like Cruising, The French Connection, and The Exorcist is back with another dark, psychological thriller. First of all, if one goes into this movie thinking it's another of the many flicks where characters die one by one (there's been more than a few lately) they are in for a surprise. Bug tells the story of a lonely (depressed?) woman named Agnes White (played by the ever surprising Ashley Judd). White lives at the Rustic Motel somewhere in Oklahoma and when she's not roaming around the place feeling sorry for herself and wondering if she should answer the phone (which is constantly ringing), she's earning money at a local watering hole.
When Agnes meets Peter Evans (played by Michael Shannon), thanks to her lesbian friend RC (played by Lynn Collins), Agnes has some much needed company and adventure; she doesn't know the half of it. I won't give too much more away but I will say that Agnes's life drastically changes with the arrival of Peter. Even Agnes's ex-husband Jerry Goss (well played by a creepy, oily Harry Connick Jr) becomes concerned.
The fact that Bug feels like a stage play is no accident; it was originally done Off-Broadway and the screenplay was written by the playwright Tracy Letts. The claustrophobia and fear of everyday life is well defined in the movie and Friedkin uses some of the devices he has employed in previous movies; one example is when Peter goes into a delirious state and begins bouncing around on the bed (take that Linda Blair).
Judd is great in the role and gives it her all. The problem with her character is she was flawed and I didn't believe the choices she made. Shannon, who actually played the role of Peter in the Off-Broadway production, is well cast and takes creepy to a whole new level. The first 45 minutes of the movie literally plods along and it feels like the characters are just waiting for the inevitable conclusion; the only conclusion that can be arrived at. One that I figured out too early. This movie is not for the faint of heart and it's not particularly scary either. If you like the psychological brouhaha and conspiracy theories of the world then this movie is for you.
Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 1/2 bag