'Stung' Review: Doesn't Leave a Lingering Sting
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[Tribeca ’15 Review] ‘Stung’ Doesn’t Leave a Lingering Sting




Stung is not a good movie, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that it’s trying to be. I would be able to forgive the movie for being cheesy and terrible if it didn’t seem to want to be a better movie, but Stung takes itself far too seriously for a movie about giant killer wasps.

The film follows Julia (newcomer Jessica Cook) and Paul (Matt O’Leary, Sorority Row), two caterers who are on their way to work a job that will make or break their business. Their clients are Sydney Perch (Clifton Collins Jr.) and his mother, who are both a bit on the loopy side. Among the high profile guests at their event is the town mayor (Lance Henriksen, looking incredibly bored), who proves to be a useful member among the group of survivors following the initial wasp attack. From there the film follows the few survivors of the initial attack as they try to escape the house they’ve barricaded themselves in.

It’s not that Stung is a serious film (it is most definitely a horror comedy), but it does take itself very seriously.  It thinks it’s a lot funnier than it is. Jokes fall flat so often that it became almost embarrassing to watch. A few of the jokes inspired chuckles from this reviewer, but they were few and far between.

All of the actors involved here look bored, with the possible exception of Cook. She is given more to do than anyone else in the cast (especially in the final act) and she does exude a charisma that is somewhat endearing. Everyone else just seems to be going through the motions. Collins Jr. and Henriksen look like (forgive the cliché) they wish they were in a different movie. O’Leary is alright as the male lead, but all he is asked to do is look tough and dote on Cook’s character.

Boredom is Stung’s biggest sin. It takes 20 minutes (in an 82 minute movie) for the first attack to even happen. Those first 20 minutes are filled with a lot of unnecessary exposition. Characters say things that would feel awkward coming out of anyone’s mouth just to provide a little backstory. It’s understandable in terms of character development, but after a while the film just starts beating us over the head with it. On top of all of this, few things in the film make much sense. For example, when the wasps attack for the first time, everyone just runs around in circles swatting at the air rather than running inside the house that’s 20 feet away.

The one saving grace the movie has is its practical effects. The wasps are created using poor (and I mean poor) CGI in the first act, but once the wasps start evolving, most of the close-up shots and gore effects refrain from using CGI. The initial attack by the wasp colony is littered with some nifty money shots, like a giant wasp emerging out of a woman’s face. Unfortunately to get to these moments we must suffer stiff acting, terrible attempts at humor and, worst of all, boredom.

Overall, Stung is a missed opportunity to make a killer wasp movie that stands out above the endless dreck that The Asylum and SyFy provides us. I’m not someone with incredibly high standards when it comes to creature features (it’s my second favorite sub-genre), which makes Stung a crushing disappointment. Skip it.