Movie Review: ‘Stung’
Starring: Matt O’Leary, Jessica Cook, and Clifton Collins, Jr.
Plot: A swarm of mutated wasps attack a dinner party at a big estate.
Sometimes it is hard to be optimistic about indie horror movies, especially creature features. Creature features require some pretty legit casting decisions and special effects in order to really sell the audience on the creature. Amateur actors and a cheap creature can sink the coolest premise. I hold on to hope though that one day, we can have the next Tremors, a movie that should simply not be good, but is one hell of a good time. Stung was almost that movie.
It stars Jessica Cook as caterer, Julia, on her way to a big fancy mansion in the middle of nowhere. She is being primed to take over the business and really needs this party to go well. She doesn’t think she can trust her quintessential slacker co-worker though. Matt O’Leary’s Paul is the first hurdle the movie has to jump over. A pothead who doesn’t really care about his job is just so trite. Luckily, O’Leary is super charming, legitimately funny, and, when the going gets tough, successfully rises to the occasion. They are joined by two amazing character actors: Clifton Collins Jr and Lance Henrikson. They are both more than qualified for the respective roles: the creepy heir to the estate where the party is being thrown and the scandalous drunkard mayor of their Anywhere, USA town. Having this cast is the first step to securing a quality creature feature.
Next up is the creatures. These wasps have been mutated by illegally imported super-fertilizer. They borrow heavily from the Alien mythos. A sting from one of them injects an egg into you that will birth a person sized wasp. Director Benni seems to have gotten his start in special effects, his highest profile gig being the surreal sci-fi drama, Melancholia. He uses a combination of digital and practical effects that look great and give the cast members something to really react to. So, again, mission accomplished.
Knowing you need a charming cast and eccentric effects to sell a B-movie creature feature is well-documented at this point, but Stung proves you can’t simply lean on that. The movie sets everything up so entertainingly, it is a real blow when it starts racing to a resolution. The cast is not given much more to do than panic while hiding, and the creatures don’t do more than intimidate in the background. It might have helped if they had a few more characters to interact with. So many of the blank “red shirts” were taken out during the first attack on the party. The director was left with less characters to frivolously kill off to amp up tension. Thus it starts to lose some juice around the third quarter of the movie.
I still had a good time with it to be honest. I just really wished it was the next Tremors.