Sting (2024, dir. Kiah Roache-Turner)

by | May 28, 2024

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 92 mins

UK Distributor: Studiocanal

UK Release Date: 31 May 2024

WHO’S IN STING?

Alyla Browne, Jermaine Fowler, Ryan Corr, Penelope Mitchell, Silvia Colloca, Noni Hazlehurst, Robyn Nevin, Danny Kim, Alcira Carpio, Tony J. Black, Rowland Holmes

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Kiah Roache-Turner (director, writer, editor), Chris Brown, Jamie Hilton and Michael Pontin (producers), Anna Drubich (composer), Brad Shield (cinematographer), Jeff Cummings and Luke Doolan (editors)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

A mysterious little spider soon grows to terrifying sizes…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON STING?

I hate insects. Specifically, giant insects. Ever since childhood, I have had an unnerving fear of bugs growing to massive size and devouring everything in their path. It is why I will never, ever watch films like Them! or Kingdom of the Spiders, or any other film that features enormous insects being blown up to unrealistically large proportions and causing all sorts of chaos. That’s how bad my entomophobia (fear of insects) is, when it gets to a point where I simply refuse to watch specific movies about them.

So why, oh why, did I choose to watch Sting, a movie that is specifically about a giant spider? I honestly have no idea. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, or it’s possibly even a self-hatred thing where I feel as though I deserve to be subjected to stuff I’m most fearful of. For whatever reason, I felt it was a good idea to go along to a screening of this film and watch large chunks of it through my fingers.

Luckily, there were other parts of the film that I could just about get behind that didn’t have much else to do with that horrid spider. Sting, from Australian filmmaker Kiah Roache-Turner, embraces its B-movie roots and delivers much of what you’d expect from this type of film, and while it’s not an especially strong feature, it’s got some decent stuff all wrapped up in its own web.

The film’s events kick off when a mysterious little meteorite crashes through the window of a New York apartment building, during a particularly heavy snowstorm. It is an Alien-esque egg, from which hatches a tiny spider-like creature that is quickly picked up by Charlotte (Alyla Browne), a 12-year-old girl living with her mother Heather (Penelope Mitchell), her illustrator stepfather Ethan (Ryan Corr) and their infant son. Naming the spider Sting, Charlotte keeps it in a jar where she feeds it cockroaches and discovers its uncanny ability to mimic sounds. However, Sting begins growing and growing, to a point where it is able to sneak its way out of the jar and through the unusually large air ducts, where it preys upon other tenants, until it becomes a monstrous killing machine that only Charlotte can subdue.

First and foremost, and primarily because I want to get it out of the way early, I need to talk about the spider itself. Sting is brought to life by a mixture of CGI and practical effects, including animatronics and puppetry, and from a purely critical standpoint it is impressively done. You can certainly tell whenever it’s a computer effect, particularly when it is much smaller, but it’s cool to see this kind of effort being put into making a movie monster, especially an insectoid one like Sting, look like it’s legitimately there, and Roache-Turner clearly respects the practical artistry enough to resist the urge to go the full CG route. It makes the creature much scarier by just knowing that it’s actually on this set in front of these actors, and there is great detail put into this design that makes it legitimately terrifying whenever it is show up close, or even in shadow (as it is for most of the time, because this movie likes to taunt me to no end).

Naturally, that made my personal viewing experience all the more difficult. The film as a whole is far from unwatchable, but pretty much any scene where that not-so-little spider is crawling around, chomping into animals and humans alike, I found it exceptionally difficult to watch. I can count on both hands the amount of times that I felt genuine fear during this movie, far more than some of the more recent horror movies I watched like Tarot or The Strangers: Chapter 1 (though to put Sting in the same conversation as those films anyway would be to insult this movie in its entirety), because I simply cannot stomach watching giant insects roaming around and putting their enlarged feelers or legs all over things that should be much larger than they are. I know that this is very much a personal thing, and that not everyone is going to have the same experience that I have, but I imagine that anyone else with some serious arachnophobia – something that Roache-Turner himself is said to also have, so mad respect to him for making a movie about a giant spider in the first place – will have a similarly difficult time with this one.

Taking the spider away from it all, Sting is a pretty decent ride. It is definitely going for a tongue-in-cheek vibe, albeit not quite as feverishly as another giant-spider movie Eight Legged Freaks, and often the film does get some good laughs from people’s reactions to this giant spider, as well as some intricately blocked sequences involving said spider. There are some iffy performances, which again might be due to its intentional B-movie vibes, but for the most part the actors do well, particularly Alyla Browne and Ryan Corr, whose uneven relationship throughout the film provides some of its sweeter moments. Certain characters are written in such a way where you’re practically counting down the seconds before they meet their timely demise, and some of them may get on your nerves more than others, but Roache-Turner’s script knows firmly what it’s going for, and delivers on nearly every front you’d expect it to.

While it would be untrue of me to say that Sting is a film you should avoid, because there is some enjoyable stuff in there, just know what you’re getting into – especially if, like me, you absolutely cannot abide massive bugs in any corner of reality.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Sting is nightmare fuel for arachnophobes with its fearsome depiction of deadly giant spiders, but underneath it is a decent B-movie horror throwback with some fun tongue-in-cheek moments and impressive effects.

Three out of five stars

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