Cinematic Releases: Stung

Andrew reviews the icky, goopy, gross out, comedy horror called Stung.

"I already told you!!! I don't eat meat!"
Going into the recently released IFC Midnight offering Stung, with its opening cue of a cheesy looking CG rendered bumblebee being attacked and destroyed by a wasp seen from a Beetlejuice-esque aerial opening shot, you kind of know from the get-go nothing here is to be taken seriously.  Goofy and silly with a lot of the slip on slime and goo gags, Stung promises mayhem, laughs, blood and guts and doesn’t disappoint on delivery.  The modern equivalent of a 1950s drive-in creature feature, Stung takes the played-out giant killer-insects concept and manages to inject it with a fresh perspective.  Where most throwaway efforts of this kind depict your usual gaggle of prepubescent yet oversexed teens boozing and sexing their way to death, Stung gives us a pair of struggling young caterers, Julia (Jessica Cook) and Paul (Matt O’Leary), trying to make ends meet servicing rich elderly clients.  For the most part we’ve seen it all the cheesy fun before but this small detail in the heroes’ background sets Stung apart from the usual creature feature fare.

Giant killer wasps borne as a side effect of experimental fertilizer aren’t all that dissimilar from the giant ants in 1954’s Them!  It’s no secret why Lance Henriksen makes a comical cameo as an alcoholic town mayor, as much of Stung’s thriller tropes borrow heavily from James Cameron’s Aliens.  The way the movie boils down to lone survivors barricading themselves indoors against monsters trying to get in from outside including an episode where one of the characters is rescued from a cocoon within the wasp hive echoes Ripley’s rescue of Newt in Aliens.  Most of the gross-out body horror lends itself to David Cronenberg’s The Fly as full grown adult wasps claw their way out of their human hosts.  More than the film’s cheap sounding and instantly forgettable synth score, Stung sticks around thanks to the sound design of multichannel buzzing of wasps and a lot of gross and disgusting squishy sounds. 

"This is not the kind of party
I thought it was!"
The mixture of CGI and practical effects are pretty low budget and not always up to par with some sequences working better than others.  Of the recent low budget tongue-in-cheek monster movies concerning survivors barricading themselves indoors, I myself prefer 2005's Project Greenlight flick Feast for going balls to the wall with the over the top gags and taking no prisoners detailing its characters’ grim and occasionally hilarious fates.  Despite being kind of run of the mill and a cut above Asylum Entertainment’s usual output, the two lead characters were far more interesting than movies of this ilk deserve and Lance Henriksen clearly has fun getting drunk and battling giant wasps with shovels and one liners.  Not as funny or memorable overall as something like Feast but still a fun night at the drive in.

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-Andrew Kotwicki