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 Written by

STING (2024)

Release Date: 04/12/24 [Cinemas]
Genre: Horror. Thriller.

Studio: Well Go USA Entertainment. 

"After raising an unnervingly talented spider in secret, 12-year-old Charlotte must face the facts about her pet-and fight for her family's survival-when the once-charming creature rapidly transforms into a giant, flesh-eating monster." 


A group of people trapped inside of a single location during a dangerous winter storm. A giant carnivorous spider. A child forced to grow up and save the day. These are elements we’ve seen on the big screen before; however, we’ve never seen them combined or delivered with as much camp as the new horror film Sting does. 


The film begins with an old lady hearing some rumbling in her bedroom. She quickly shuffles to her phone to call an exterminator. Through some clever visual cues it is revealed that she is living all alone with dementia. Still, with the help of some pre-written notes and reminders, she successfully manages to convince the exterminator to check out the problem. When he arrives, however, he realizes that the source of the rumbling is the total opposite of a pest. It’s an large, unseen predator. In a comedic twist, as he tries to fight it off, the old lady who called him there hears the commotion and shuffles towards her phone again to call an exterminator for what she thinks is the first time.


That sick humor is just a tiny taste of what writer/director Kiah Roache-Turner’s film has to offer. Similar to the titular creature, it grows in somewhat ridiculous proportions as the story goes on. 


After the opening sequence, the film transports the audience to a few days before the incident. Just as NYC, where the story takes place, braces for a blizzard, something other than snow falls from the sky. A tiny rock from outer space crashes through a window and into an antique dollhouse located inside an apartment complex. Moments later it cracks open. A creature that resembles a spider emerges. Moments after that, a young girl emerges similarly from a nearby vent. 


Charlotte, as we come to know her as, lives in the building with her mom, stepfather and baby brother. In fact, her stepfather is the building’s superintendent. She’s so bored with her life that she often explores the building by traveling through the vents. When she finds the spider, however, she feels like she’s finally found something to keep her excited. Immediately, she names it Sting. Immediately, she has no idea the terror that she’s about to unleash on her family and the rest of the building’s inhabitants. Especially as a massive winter storm heads into the tri-state area and threatens to trap everyone indoors.


Charlotte is played by Alyla Browne, and she is the heart of this movie. Not just because she’s the main character but because so much of the film is seen through her eyes. For a majority of the movie, despite being a bit of a rebel, she is still very much innocent. As she travels through the building’s vents and catches glimpse of all her quirky neighbors, not once does she pass judgment. In contrast to Sting, she has the opportunity to prey on them, or even use the questionable things she sees against them, but doesn’t. Her humanity is a stark contrast to Sting’s ferocity. So much so that it makes the film’s climax, when she is forced to become just as feral, all the more enjoyable. By the end, she’s not the innocent girl in the vents anymore. 


Ryan Corr plays Charlotte’s stepfather, Ethan. He is also integral to the story because he’s the one forced to deal with all the damage Sting is doing - all while not knowing that Sting is doing it. The fact that he is not Charlotte’s real father is also a further extension of the film’s theme of biology. Ethan’s biological connection to Charlotte is unnatural in a totally different way that Sting’s is. Still, you’d be surprised at which has a better success rate over the course of the film. It isn’t until Ethan and Charlotte reconcile their own differences and realize that they need each other that defeating Sting becomes a possibility.


While the rest of the film’s supporting cast is great, the performance that deserves the most praise is Jermaine Fowler’s. He plays the doomed exterminator we meet in the opening of the film. Without giving too much away, even in the brief amount of screentime he has, he delivers some of the most memorable and realistic lines of the entire film. 


Despite its strengths, the film isn’t without its issues. There are times where Roache-Turner breaks away from the film’s camp to be a little too serious. There’s particularly a subplot involving Ethan wanting to ditch being a superintendent to pursue a dream of making comic books.. From time to time he even enlists the help of Charlotte. While it does help to set up a fight and eventual rift between the two characters, it doesn’t feel necessary. And whenever the story stops to build upon it almost feels like it belongs in a different film.


Additionally, the big winter storm that the entire film is set against feels underutilized. In the few news reports that we see throughout the film, you get the sense that it’s supposed to do a lot of damage. In fact, there are only a handful of exterior shots so you can’t even assess the damage yourself. The weather is propped up to feel like a character, but it’s never anything more than a plot device used to force our characters to stay indoors. At the same time, Roache-Turner also does such a good job at making this housing complex feel like hell that you almost don’t care for what’s outside.


Like its titular monster, Sting starts off small and grows to captivate over its 90-minute runtime. While it doesn’t always pierce with precision, its sharp balance between comedy and horror is hard to ignore. Its campy approach to the creature feature genre almost guarantees it’ll have legs for years to come.


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