Sting Poster

Sting (2024) Review

Sting is the new film from Australian writer/director Kiah Roache-Turner, the man behind the Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead films Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead and its sequel Wyrmwood: Apocalypse as well as the over the top ghost hunting film Nekrotronic. All three of them were fun films that made good use of a small budget, so a big bug movie seemed like a good fit for his skills.

This time out, he’s traded his apocalyptic scenarios for the goings-on in the apartment building where an alien spider egg comes to rest after a trip through Earth’s atmosphere. It hatches, and its occupant is found by Charlotte (Alyla Browne, Children of the Corn, The Secret Kingdom), who dubs the creature Sting,

Charlotte is a rebellious twelve-year-old who lives there with her mother Heather (Penelope Mitchell, Hellboy, R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned) and her stepfather Ethan (Ryan Corr, Wolf Creek 2, House of the Dragon) and their six-month-old son Liam (Jett Berry and Kade Berry), whom Charlotte refers to as the bane of her existence.

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The building’s only other occupants seem to be Heather’s Alzheimer’s stricken mother Helga (Noni Hazlehurst, Ladies in Black, Long Story Short), and Helga’s perpetually angry sister Gunter (Robyn Nevin, Relic, The Matrix Reload), a creepy Asian grad student named Erik (Danny Kim, War Machine, Born to Spy) and an alcoholic widow named Maria (Silvia Colloca, Van Helsing, The Twelve). Add in the exterminator, Frank (Jermaine Fowler, A Murder at the End of the World, First Time Female Director).

Sting is something of a slow burn, with most of the film’s first half being devoted to family drama. Apart from resenting Liam, Charlotte has issues with Ethan for replacing her biological father, despite having deserted her and her mother years ago. Gunter hates Ethan for reasons unexplained, repeatedly threatening to replace him as the building’s maintenance man, despite the effect that would have on blood relatives.

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This is meant to help flesh out the characters, but it doesn’t really accomplish much. We never really learn why Charlotte still favours the father who abandoned her, and just how she came to be working on a semi successful comic book with Ethan is never explained either. Heather comes across as distracted and has little to do beyond blaming things on Ethan. The rest of the cast is left underdeveloped, not that it really matters.

Through most of this, Sting herself is left mostly in the background, occasionally by means unexplained, letting herself out of the jar that serves as her home to go find a larger meal than the insects Charlotte feeds her. Once she finally goes on a rampage, what little characterization there was is instantly forgotten so that Charlotte can play Ripley, stalking the spider through the building’s heating ducts with a super soaker loaded with homemade spider killer in order to save her family.

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Roache-Turner does know how to stage an action scene, and the film’s final act does deliver what you tuned in to see, as the surviving humans have to find a way to stop the rapidly growing alien arachnid. The effects are a mix of practical gore and quite good CGI for the creature in its larger incarnations. While not overly explicit when it comes to the gore, Sting uses the audience’s arachnophobia to its advantage. Scenes of the critter crawling in someone’s mouth and chewing her way back will make a lot of viewers skin crawl, whether they’re scared of spiders or not.

Overall, Sting is an acceptable film if you don’t mind dealing with all the rather dull family drama in the film’s first half. Granted, that is a bit of a disappointment as I was expecting better given the director’s past films.

Well Go USA will release Sting in North American theatres on April 12th.

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