The first feature film to be produced by Magic Dog Productions is a trilogy in the style of the 1975 horror film starring Karen Black, ‘Trilogy of Terror’. ‘BUGS: A Trilogy’ is a psychological horror film written by Alexandra Grunberg and directed by Simone Kisiel.
A babysitter with a clever and violent ward. A patient who mistrusts the doctor’s orders. A young woman haunted by a malevolent presence. And the terror that ties them all together: BUGS. On their own, spiders, parasites, and bedbugs hold their own private horror for those who are beset by the quiet scuttles and slurps of inhuman creatures. But for Diane, Hannah, and Elena, three varied yet eerily similar women, these bugs represent the larger horrors of paranoia, helplessness, and abandonment. The Bugs Trilogy explores the inequality of the watcher and ward, relationships between mothers and their children, and the measures we are willing to take to protect ourselves from dangers we do not want to comprehend.
Elliot is a little gentleman. Smart, obedient, quiet. It should not be difficult for Diane to take care of him while his mother is recuperating. But Elliot has a knack for making Diane’s job difficult. He does not want to share snacks. He does not want to eat the food she makes. He does not want to get ready bed. He has creative ideas about the purpose of Raid. And he thinks a knife is an appropriate to tool to pack for a sleepover. Diane has her hands full with Elliot. And at the end of the day, she still has to deal with what might be hidden under his bed.
Hannah is sick. Her doctor won’t listen to her concerns. Her mother won’t call her back. There is something terribly wrong happening inside her. She is alone in her apartment, helpless, struggling with an internal horror that leaves her in pain, embarrassed, and constantly in the bathroom. As the symptoms continue to worsen, Hannah begins to wonder if all these treatments designed to cure her might in fact be the cause. How long will it take before Hannah realizes that she is the only one who can help her get better? And what will happen if the help comes too late?
Elena is being terrorized at nights. Little bites appear on her skin from bugs she cannot find. Her roommate does not have time to deal with this problem. Her mother refuses to believe that the problem even exists. And even if there are bedbugs, they are just bugs. So why is Elena getting so upset? Perhaps the reactions remind her of another time she was abandoned by those she trusted. Perhaps it has something to do with the dark force that will not let her sleep, that finds her when she is alone, and brings with it a trauma Elena does not want to remember. But as she tries to ignore the shadowy figure, reality and memory begin to blur until she is forced to confront her past.
What makes BUGS different from other horror being produced now is that it focuses not on shock factor, gross out, or (as Scream would call it) the “obligatory titty shot.” Instead, BUGS is based on the premise that horror begins in the mind… a small, terrible thought gets lodged in your subconscious, much like a bug burrowing into the dirt, and what the audience doesn’t see, what the audience chooses to believe, the story that they see off camera and the real-life truths that resonate within the tale are the true trademarks of terror. Women, and men, can watch these three shorts and know that they represent horrors we have to live with every day and fears that are all too real. Fiction is the lens through which we can understand and confront the horrors of our own reality. And too often women depicted in horror have been stripped down to over-sexualized stereotypes, depriving the audience of a story that rings true because, despite the safety of a fictional setting, the most important part of the story, the meaning behind the monsters, is true.
Funding has been made possible by the Puffin Foundation, Ltd.