Director: Benni Diez
Cast: Clifton Collins Jr., Jessica Cook, Lance Henriksen, Matt O’Leary
Watch Stung online in the UK: iTunes / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
There’s nothing like having a swarm of giant, killer wasps crash your garden party to ruin the weekend. Alas, that’s what happens to Mrs. Perch, a wealthy old lady who throws a backyard shindig at her country mansion every year. On the downside, the food by caterers Paul (O’Leary) and Julia (Cook) is ruined by giant killer wasps. On the plus side, giant killer wasps.
Stung wastes no time wheeling out the stars of the show – and they’re not the humans. Directed by Benni Diez, whose background is in special effects, the monsters are majestic triumphs of trash; part yellow paint, part red paint and all nasty pointy bits. They start off normal sized, until they cross stingers with Mrs. Perch’s illegally imported fertiliser, which sends them growing up to seven-feet high. And impaling people’s heads. And hatching out of human bodies. As you do.
Billed as a horror comedy, the laughs are few and far between, as the obvious notes fly out of Adam Aresty’s script. But the cast are all likeable, from Matt O’Leary’s predictable journey from stoner to hero to Jessica Cook’s straight-laced but soft-hearted boss. Clifton Collins Jr., meanwhile, is unrecognisable as Sydney, the long-haired, awkward son of the hostess. It’s Lance Henriksen, though, who really elevates the piece, as the genre veteran revels in lowering the tone; his mayor drinks, swears and stabs his way through proceedings, helping to balance the emphasis away from the inevitable romance blossoming between our two leads.
With the entire ensemble up for it and the screen packed with traditional, practical creatures, the movie buzzes along with a fast, easy charm; the old-fashioned approach extends to the runtime too, wrapping things up in under 90 minutes. Combined with Stephan Burchardt’s cinematography, which makes the low-cost flick look like a big-budget thriller, this is a natural fit for the late-night slot during FrightFest. If you’re planning a horror marathon this Halloween, this is your perfect midnight movie. Stung may not be that funny, but it couldn’t bee more fun.