Director: Benni Diez
MPAA Rating: NR
Run Time: 90 min.
I’ve always been a sucker for the creature feature; describe a movie as “giant killer (insert literally any noun in here),” and I’ll probably be excited to check it out – the campier the better. Such is the case with director Benni Diez’s feature debut, Stung, which involves giant killer wasps. It’s, gross, violent, silly and sometimes just plain stupid but in the best kind of way. Top it off with two completely ridiculously fun performances from Clifton Collins Jr. and Lance Henriksen, and you have yourself a bloody good time.
The film stars Matt O’Leary and Jessica Cook as Paul and Julia, two caterers hired to tend a fancy garden party on an estate out in the sticks. At first, everything is progressing swimmingly with delicious food and libations abound and everyone having a fantastic time. That is, until an angry swarm of freakishly big wasps descend on the guests – killing some, but laying eggs in most – causing even bigger wasps to emerge from the bodies of the infected. Paul, an apparent slacker, now must step up and protect those still alive from the hundreds of angry insects now mercilessly slaughtering everyone in their vicinity.
Stung plays it fairly close to the vest in the way of plot, causing things to proceed exactly how one might expect any monster movie to, with little deviation from the standard formula. It’s less exploitative than Piranha 3D and less comedic than Slither, so it lands somewhere in the middle of those two comparable films. In movies like this, however, it’s not about the broad strokes; it’s about how much torture these characters must endure in an attempt to get out of this farcical situation alive, and in that regard, Stung is an incredibly fun ride.
The two lead characters of Paul and Julia are written more realistically and likable, whereas nearly every other character is cartoonish and idiotic. It was almost as much fun watching Paul and Julia try to deal with the other guests as it was watching them try to deal with the wasps. Clifton Collins Jr. plays the mentally unstable son of the manor, a man-child with questionable decision-making skills, and an ever-present creeper vibe. The other main side character is played by Lance Henriksen, the alcoholic mayor of the town who often seems more concerned about finding his next drink than getting out of the situation alive. Having these two veteran actors play in these completely absurd roles was an excellent choice and simply added to the fun factor of the proceedings.
Because these wasps don’t simply kill their victims but instead lay eggs inside them, causing even larger wasps to emerge from their host, it creates something of a situation similar to The Thing, where the survivors are never really sure who has been infected and who is safe. Despite this element not making a whole lot of sense, it was a fun little touch and allowed for some truly gross hatching scenes, where a significant amount of practical effects were used. If you’re in the market to see some gross creature effects, this one fits the bill.
Sure, Stung plays out like most every other creature feature you’ve seen over the last few decades, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. The dialogue is funny; the action is over the top and gory; and the characters are just silly enough to be entertaining without heading into pure stupidity. If you’re looking for a good monster movie, but are tired of all the hum-drum SyFy channel detritus, Stung is worth a look.