By James Calemine
Kentucky girl Ashley Judd earned a Saturn Award nomination for William Friedkin’s Bug. Judd plays a lonely waitress, “Agnes”, living in a deteriorating motel room who meets a disturbed war veteran infested with microscopic bugs during his duty in the middle east. Soon they find a bug infestation and events take a dark turn for the worse.
William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist, The Thin Blue Line) directs this unnerving story. Harry Connick, Jr. plays Judd’s stalking ex-con, ex-husband in this violent psycho-thriller. Oklahoma native Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade” plays in the soundtrack (along with Susan Tedeschi’s “I Feel In Love” and Donny Ray Ford’s “Cowboy Boots”) as a song on the midnight radio.
Friedkin told Roger Ebert at the time of the film’s release about how he chose Judd: “I wanted Ashley for her intelligence. The actors have to be able to understand this movie. It can’t be explained to them. Her personal experience was a help: She grew up with her mother and sister, poor, living in trailers, she had some abusive relationships…she had some things in common with Agnes. I didn’t have to say a lot to her. We were on the same page.”
Most of the scenes transpire in a motel room. An uneasy current runs through this film—based on the Tracy Letts play–that touches on technology…military experiments…menacing chemicals…death machines and weird conspiracies that arise like a poisonous infection waiting to strike society. Judd shines in this creepy thriller. Friedkin’s use of weird lighting amplifies the overall nervous vibration in every shot. Bug somehow gets under your skin…