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As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to be source for stories of troubled and haunted soldiers returning from combat, few films put emphasis on the families waiting back home, hoping they come back safely. Aside from obligatory images of fearful wives, these movies primarily focus on the harrowing experiences of these brave soldiers, rarely turning attention to those raising new families on their own.
Now comes Lady Bug, a film that turns its lens on a broken wife of a soldier and her own descent into hell as she goes into personal combat of her own. She is Lexie (Rachael St. Rose as Rachel Cairns), a pretty blonde woman who falls victim to drug abuse in the absence of her husband, a soldier in service in Afghanistan. When he comes home, he takes their two young children to start a new life, claiming her party lifestyle makes her unfit. When he tells her they are moving to San Diego, in a chemical haze, she protests and climbs aboard a small cabin cruiser being towed behind a pick-up, the name ‘San Diego’ on the boat’s stern. Stowed away, she wakes the next day to find a dead body and a crazed man (Christopher Showerman) aboard. As they drift in open ocean, she must try to stay alive while fending off the demons of her addiction and the need to reach her children.
Written and directed by Brooks Campbell, Lady Bug is a low budget, minimal film that in many ways is like a small stage play with primarily two actors on a single set, the vast ocean surrounding them keeping them isolated from the rest of the world. A study of addiction, it is both a literal and metaphorical depiction of a woman forced to combat a vicious cycle of abuse and terror that she has trapped herself within, it all literally at the center of circling sharks.
Soon, we realize, as does she, that she is more of danger to herself than the killer she is keeping company with and the seas and the man are more than what they seem. Why does he seem to know much about her and why does he have so many pictures of he and other women together? And if he is a killer, why doesn’t he kill her? These are some of the challenges in keeping up with Lady Bug a film that has plenty of tension and suspense even while it wanders about adrift a few times and is hindered by unpolished production values and uneven editing.
Clearly a symbolic journey, Lexie’s fight for survival and redemption is a curious experience and the sheer oddity of it all keeps it compelling even if it’s thirty minutes too long. While it lacks momentum in the several key moments, and the transitional story labors on, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for Lexie and see what destiny the ocean holds for her.
Lady Bug is available now on Amazon Prime.
Movie description: Lady Bug is a 2107 horror/thriller about a woman who stows away on a small boat in an attempt to get to her children, only to find herself face to face with a suicidal murderer.
Director(s): Brooks Campbell
Actor(s): Rachael St. Rose, Christopher Showerman, Chanel Marriott, Sheé Dueitt