Stung (2015)
Stung (2015)

Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Release Date: July 3rd, 2015 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Benni Diez Actors: Jessica Cook, Matt O’Leary, Lance Henriksen, Clifton Collins Jr., Cecilia Pillado, Eve Slatner, Kathleen Renish

 


 

W

himsically buzzing through the colorful autumn treetops in New York, a honeybee is suddenly attacked by a larger, black insect – possibly some kind of wasp. The pleasant orchestral music is likewise replaced with morbid tones. And then a violent mutation occurs on the victim bug, spelling certain disaster for anyone in the vicinity.

Julia (Jessica Cook) worries about the latest party that her company, Country Catering, was hired to work, especially after her father’s recent passing. Her driver (and bartender), Paul (Matt O’Leary), can’t stop talking, careening recklessly along a narrow road, and glancing at Julia’s chest when she removes her shirt to take care of a coffee spill. Once they arrive at the enormous yet ancient Perch residence, Paul begins setting up tables while Larry the pianist (Daniele Rizzo) – the musical entertainer for the evening – practices a few tunes. And Sydney Perch (Clifton Collins Jr.), the client’s hunchbacked son, starts the festivities early by downing a beer. With guests arriving in less than a half-hour, Julia fusses over last-minute details; but Paul becomes preoccupied by a rather sizable wasp flitting around the tables.

With a great deal of background characters, “Stung” promises to serve up plenty of fodder for the eventual monster-movie attacks. And, indeed, shortly after Mayor Caruthers (indie horror regular Lance Henriksen) chats about some tasty hors d’oeuvres, all hell breaks loose, with a tremendous swarm of wasps erupting from a hole in the ground and assaulting the panicking partiers. Unpredictably, the couple of characters that have speaking lines are the first to die, which means that the remaining handful of survivors are merely the stars. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, considering that the small-talk dialogue comes across as a little desperate and generic. When it’s used to fill gaps between the action, it sounds even more obviously stale and uninspired.

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of comedy to complement the violence – which goes above and beyond to be mutilative and gooey. Blood splatters across walls, human appendages are torn apart, and slime abounds. Wasp stings result in giant, mutant creatures bursting from their hosts, utilizing mostly practical effects, chiefly when the oversized monstrosities crawl around drooling and lunging at prey. The look is spectacular, resembling schlocky slashers from the ’80s, which is far superior to its present-day, CG-heavy peers. And the humor, which permeates even sequences of gruesome bloodshed, sets an appropriate tone for the thrills; “Stung” rightly doesn’t want to take itself too seriously.

The lighting and sets are also handled well, creating an amusing series of battlegrounds for people to face off against freaks of nature. The story, however, isn’t planned out as sharply, resorting too frequently to spells of calm for further chats about nothing (or for unconvincing flirting), before the next spontaneous onslaught. But the finale improves considerably when the yuck factor increases exponentially, borrowing a note or two from “Dead Alive” and from the many teen slashers that boast villains who refuse to die.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10