Sting (2024)
Sting (2024)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 31 min.

Release Date: April 12th, 2024 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Kiah Roache-Turner Actors: Alyla Browne, Ryan Corr, Penelope Mitchell, Jermaine Fowler, Noni Hazlehurst, Robyn Nevin, Silvia Colloca

 


 

“E

xterminator! Exterminator!” In South Brooklyn, an elderly woman (Noni Hazlehurst) calls for a professional when she hears animalistic sounds coming from the walls. When Frank (Jermaine Fowler) shows up to investigate, it turns out that he’s not the first bug-spraying company to arrive; another company beat him to the job, but that employee fell victim to a particularly nasty pest of an extraterrestrial species.

Four days earlier, little Charlotte Krouse (Alyla Browne) pokes around in the storage rooms and private spaces of various residents in her apartment complex, using the ducts to navigate throughout the roach-infested building. It’s far more entertaining for the mischievous girl than resentfully babysitting her 6-month-old baby brother, despite her mother Heather (Penelope Mitchell) and her stepfather Ethan Miller (Ryan Corr) – the facility’s maintenance man (or supervisor) and an aspiring comic book artist – insisting upon helpful responsibilities. The claustrophobic airways and creepy-crawlies potentially lurking within those areas don’t bother the youngster – especially not the seemingly harmless black widow spider she secrets away into a glass jar, which definitely isn’t of the standard variety. It is, in fact, something decidedly more deadly and destructive and not of this world.

With the obviousness of the initial setup (paired with the poster artwork), “Sting” isn’t trying to hide its intentions. It’s a straightforward monster movie – a giant, killer insect, creature-feature. With that in mind, the establishment of the central family, contending with issues of the father figure living up to expectations, the mother balancing too many jobs and concealing elements of Charlotte’s biological dad, and the child worrying about losing attention to a newborn, are largely unnecessary and unoriginal. The only appropriately-developed role is that of Frank, who is almost entirely comic relief, though even he is given moments to squander with dialogue about his inherited business and unpaid invoices. These terribly unimportant details do little other than stretch out the running time, especially since sympathy and empathy aren’t generated for personas of such ordinary qualities and quirks.

“I don’t think spiders make good pets.” It’s quite problematic that a film with such a plain, unadorned premise can’t manage a swifter pace (even the framing structure, beginning in the middle before cutting back to an earlier period, is tiresome). The actual minutes are somewhat brief, but the crawling plotting makes it feel as if hours too long. By the time the arachnid physically balloons and starts its anticipated rampage, the picture has already lost its momentum and its appeal; the characters are uninteresting or annoying (they’re essentially just lining up and waiting their turn to die) and the antagonist isn’t exciting enough to set it apart from all the other subjects of overgrown man-eater endeavors.

“Wow. You’re a lot bigger. Awesome.” As with many of these kinds of low-budget horror flicks, the humans are so uninspired, unintelligent, and unlikeable (and blandly written) that audiences will surely just be rooting for the monster. At least there are a few scenes of effective gore and a couple of minimally-unnerving boo-moments to heighten the suspense (technical factors are acceptable yet routine), along with a handful of decent sets (and set decorations) and enough slime to supplement the unconvincing CG of the spider (practical effects shots are superior, even if the rubbery puppet is less scary in its sinewiness). But they’re not enough to make “Sting” better than its brethren – or even on par. Or, as the filmmakers would hope on the most basic of levels, simply memorable.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10