Essays · Movies

31 Days of Horror: Bug (2006)

By  · Published on October 6th, 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage.

Synopsis: It’s a love story between a psychologically damaged man and an emotionally damaged woman! Sounds romantic, right? Oddly, it kind of is. As the relationship strengthens between Peter (Michael Shannon) and Agness (Ashley Judd), the further Shannon’s character believes that little bugs are eating away at the two of them. Slowly the duo turn towards great insanity and chipping away at their bodies bit by bit to survive these apparently vicious bugs.

Killer Scene

The biggest squirm-inducing moment involves Michael Shannon, his teeth, and a pair of pliers. You do the math.

Kill Sheet


There is no gratuitous or grotesque violence in Bug, despite what audiences were expecting back in 2006. Most of the violence is grounded and minimal. The only bloody scenes involve Shannon and Judd chipping away at their bodies, as well as a quick stabbing. It’s realistically gruesome, not sensationalistic. There’s no fun to be had in terms of kills, but what these characters do to themselves is suitably disturbing.


Considering the story focuses on mainly two characters, there’s not a whole lot of action going on in that department. What is in that department is a dirtied down – and still, in an odd way, sexy – Ashley Judd. Before Judd starts cutting away at her skin, she has this trashy attraction about her. Along with Judd, the gorgeous Lynn Collins makes a brief appearance. Her minor role doesn’t require her to bare skin like the schlockiness of True Blood did, but her presence alone still earns points in the sex department.


Friedkin doesn’t go for jump scares or loud booms to scare us, but he effectively employs both body and psychological horror. As Bug moves along, the more unnerving and psychologically scary the film gets. The greatest scare is the believability factor that someone damaged enough would do such horrific acts to himself, and bring someone as damaged down with him.

Final Thoughts

William Fridekin’s stage play adaptation is a funny, grimy, claustrophobic, and dark love story unlike any other of its genre. By the end, the director – who’s one of the few 70s legends still capable of delivering solid work – makes a woman-beating coke head (played with a hilarious intensity by Harry Connick Jr.) the most heroic character in the film, and that puts the cherry on the top of Bug’s greatness.

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Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.