18. Bug (2007, William Friedkin)
Sometimes the more terrifying and creepiest horror films dive into the psyche of the human mind, taking a journey down the rabbit hole into pure insanity. Bug (2007) represents that fairly well as two individuals-played by Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon-go from considering a relationship into a full blown trip to Crazy Town. Whether or not the film’s ending is concrete or not is subject for debate, however everything that happens prior is what you get when you put a pair of mixed up, messed up and damaged people together in a small hotel room together.
Making matters worse is that Agnes, Judd’s character, has an abusive ex-boyfriend (played with intense menace by Harry Connick, Jr.) has been released from prison, and that he knows she has a dark and horrible secret that is the reason for her inability to move forward in her life. This secret is also partly the reason why she ends up buying into Peter (Shannon)’s paranoia and fear of not just bugs, but planted electronic bugs as well.
Because according to Peter, the government is after him, even though his damaged brain is imaging much of what he believes to be true. Lie and facts, reality and fantasy, all are blended as one by the film’s last act, and its rather nasty and hard to watch. As the title does in fact suggest, the film slowly digs under you skin, delivering a glimpse into a walking nightmare. Witnessing people fall apart in figurative sense is just as horrifying as it would be viewing people’s bodies falling apart literally (although there is some body horror later on, mostly concerning Peter), and Friedkin, who gave us the horror masterpiece The Exorcist (1973) delivers just that with Bug. Whatever the movie’s failings are, it still is a tightly paced thriller in a compact space with shades of Roman Polanski’s classic apartment films.