Based on the surrealistic literary classic by William S. Burroughs, the film deals with themes of addiction, particularly to power and control of other people, the writing process, and loss: the sense of opportunities lost, and of people trying to find their way out. Peter Weller plays exterminator Bill Lee, whose wife (Judy Davis) gets hooked on the bug powder and drags Bill along for the hallucinatory ride. He starts to receive secret messages from giant mutant beetles and kills his wife in a misguided game of William Tell. Under orders from the bugs, Bill becomes a writer and gets advice and orders from his own insectoid typewriter. Eventually, he goes to the mysterious city of Interzone, where he meets more creepy writer types and is introduced to more and more exotic mind-altering chemicals.