03 December 2009

The Decade List: Bugcrush (2006)

Bugcrush – dir. Carter Smith

The eerie, disturbing short Bugcrush may have lead writer/director Carter Smith to bigger things by directing Scott B. Smith’s adaptation of The Ruins (they both fall under the category of “nature horror”), but the latter couldn’t begin to compare to the dread, mystery and alarm Smith mastered in Bugcrush. At once, a tale of high school cruelty and gay first crushes quickly turns into one of the most genuinely unsettling horror films I’ve seen in a long while.

Against the advice of his best friend Amber (Elénore Hendricks of The Pleasure of Being Robbed), nerdish teen Ben (Josh Caras) pursues his sexual attraction to the sketchy new boy in school Grant (Donald Cumming, lead singer of The Virgins, frequent model for Ryan McGinley) in the way any high school homo would, by acting “cooler” than he is and hoping to move a “friendship” into something a bit more exciting (not to mention spying on him in the locker room). When Grant, whom Ben sees hanging out with a pair of local “tweakers” (including Billy from Billy the Kid), appears to be more receptive to Ben’s transparent attempts than Amber would have guessed, things start to get creepy.

More than simply a “Your mother told you to stay away from the bad kids” lesson, Bugcrush throttles the viewer with an unshakeable, consternating atmosphere. The sort of mood-oriented tension Smith creates is the kind that’s woefully missing from most of the horror coming out of Hollywood, which makes the fact that his Hollywood follow-up was only passably good the more unfortunate. Available as part of Strand’s short collection Boys Life 6.

With: Josh Caras, Donald Cumming, Eléonore Hendricks, David Tennent, Alex Toumayan, Billy Price, Harlan Baker
Screenplay: Carter Smith, based on the short story by Scott Treleaven
Cinematography: Darren Lew
Country of Origin: USA
US Distributor: Strand Releasing

Premiere: 20 January 2006 (Sundance)

Awards: Short Filmmaking Award (Sundance)

5 comments:

Dan Ouji said...

I just finished watching it and being a fan of happy endings, I refuse to imagine what happened in the end. What do you think happened to Ben? Did he die?

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think he died. However, I do believe he was thoroughly used and abused by all 3 of the other boys. And, was probably addicted to the bug juice after that.

Anonymous said...

In the original short story, just before Ben goes under, he realizes that the discarded clothes of all the other boys he has seen with this trio (a plot bit which does not occur in the movie) are strewn around him. Reference is made to the bugs' reliance on human blood to keep the poison potent. So we are left to assume that the bugs killed the other boys (and, by extension, Ben) by draining them of their blood so the three guys can continue to get their bug-drug fix.

Unknown said...

far as I saw they raped him over and over. and I took it more as a warning as to the possibilities of being drugged and raped

Anon said...

the kid was obviously raped. The disturbing thing is that the director goes to great length to make the rapist seem appealing. Sadly a movie that promotes rape.