Bugcrush (2006)

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Josh Caras
Josh Caras
Donald Cumming
Donald Cumming
Eleonore Hendricks
Eleonore Hendricks
David Tennent
David Tennent
Alex Toumayan
Alex Toumayan
Review by Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg
Added: February 23, 2008
A high school crush - I'm sure you have all been infatuated with someone to a certain degree to have had at least one of those during your latter school days. Was your crush on Mr./Ms. Popular, a jock, a band geek, or maybe just a normal close friend? For our protagonist Ben, it's a bad-boy type who ends up getting the butterflies in his stomach fluttering. Unfortunately, this crush he has doesn't turn out to be a harmless one (in the formal sense) once he builds up the confidence to act upon it, which quickly leads him to something more sinister than he could have imagined.

Ben (Josh Caras) is a timid teenager attending high school in a rural area of Maine. He doesn't seem to have many friends, but neither is he a social outcast. Grant (Donald Cumming) is a new student who has that "yeah, whatever" kind of attitude and seems to live an unkempt way of life. His presence and personality catches the eye of Ben's as almost immediately he becomes captivated. This is his crush, this person he knows nothing about yet still is heavily intrigued by. He desires to know Grant and hopes he may share mutual feelings of affection. Ben's close friends advise him against seeking out this desire, but the attraction is too strong for Ben to simply loosen its grip on him. Things are kept low-key between the two with a small exchange of words here and there until one day they get into a conversation and Grant asks Ben what he likes to do "to get fucked up." Ben replies by claiming he does some drugs, and in turn Grant tells Ben that he and his buddies "get up to some pretty weird shit." Ben is then asked to come over to Grant's house after school and Ben consents. With the school day over, Ben meets with Grant and his sketchy misfit friends, where he then drives off with them into the night to Grant's isolated home.

What do Grant and company have planned for the night? Will Ben end up doing something he may soon regret? What exactly does Grant mean by "weird shit?"

Bugcrush puts many a horror movie to shame. Since it is not what would particularly be considered a bona fide horror movie but instead a dark drama laced with an intensely foreboding dread, that is quite a risible and dejecting statement in relation to the quality of today's so-called horror movies. From beginning to end, this short film is able to maintain a potent and uneasy tension. A lingering sense of apprehension and an almost unwanted sense to tolerate it will cling to you. With your eyes frozen, you'll watch as Ben creeps into the boys' locker room and peeps on Grant while taking a shower as if unconcerned with what consequences may be in store for him if he is caught. Like his friends warned him, Ben might get beaten up if Grant only knew what he thinks of him. He isn't aware of what Grant's sexual preference is nor does he know the type of behavior he has, but like a moth to a flame, Ben is attracted to him. Halfway through the film, you'll probably want to reach through the screen, grab Ben by the arm, and yank him out in an attempt to save him from the situation he's put himself into - even though you won't know yet what exactly it is that he's getting into.

Director Carter Smith's Bugcrush is his amazing debut film. Technically, everything about it is handled excellently. The cinematography is crisp when wanted and flips to work subtly in further instilling discomfort within the viewer. The pacing is perfect. The cast couldn't have been chosen any better. Every role is realistic and portrayed in the manner that sucks you into a story. Josh Caras and Donald Cumming should both be loudly applauded. What stands out the most is the sound aspect that helps carry the movie's mood and tension. The minimalist ambient noise helps to provide an ominous atmosphere, and little things, like whispered remarks off-screen, all succeed in setting apart Bugcrush from the average.

This film builds up an unnerving feeling in its audience to such a great level and unleashes its climax with perfect timing and momentum. My single, minor gripe with Bugcrush is that its ending seems a tad abrupt and too ambiguous for me (even though it was likely much intended to be). That makes me wish this thirty-five-minute short film was a full-length feature, and additionally, because it would then have a better chance gaining the exposure and acclaim it truly deserves. I now highly anticipate seeing Carter Smith's full-length feature debut The Ruins, which is set to come out this April, and I don't expect it to disappoint since Smith has already shown marvelous potential as a filmmaker.

Mr. Mistoffelees #1: Mr. Mistoffelees - added 02/29/2008, 09:20 AM
It was really well done, the actors all played their parts excellently, and the pacing and atmosphere were great. The only thing I felt a little uneasy about was the ending, which my gf felt the same about. I kind of know what happened but anyone care to enlighten us?
hamadabear #2: hamadabear - added 12/09/2009, 01:56 AM
Definitely one of the creepiest films I've ever seen.
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