- Posted by John Squires
- On July 3, 2015
- 0 Comments
- creature feature
When CGI came along and took over the horror genre, creature features lost a whole lot of their magic, as the once practically-created monsters became laughable computer-generated messes. Syfy has in recent years been leading the pack when it comes to these sorts of movies, and each new one seems to be intent on being stupider than the last. Stung, I’m happy to report, doesn’t play by those rules.
The feature debut of visual effects artist Benni Diez, Stung centers on a fancy party being catered by new business owner Julia and clumsy employee Paul. The party almost immediately takes a turn for the worse when giant mutant wasps show up uninvited, their initially large size paling in comparison to the massive monsters they become once they start infecting the partygoers.
Given Diez’s background as a visual effects artist, you may expect Stung to be aces in that department, and indeed the effects are the film’s strongest suit. Most impressive of all, the jumbo-sized killer wasps are oftentimes handmade props rather than digital creations, giving the film an old school feel that is sure to delight all horror fans who have grown tired of current creature feature trends.
That’s not to say there isn’t any CGI present in Stung, as Diez utilizes a good deal of it to his advantage, but he blends it so seamlessly with the ooey, gooey practical effects that you rarely even notice when the monster action was beefed up in post-production. Full of blood, sticky wasp slime and loaded with gross-out carnage, Stung is one modern creature feature that delivers all the right goods.
One of Stung’s most fun qualities is that the giant wasps don’t just come out of nowhere, but rather smaller-sized wasps literally implant themselves inside of human hosts, giving birth to much bigger monsters that often retain some human qualities. One standout death scene feels like something ripped straight out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, as a woman’s head is fused into the hybrid creation.
Though the dialogue is admittedly lacking a certain level of humor that makes Stung fall a bit short as a comedy, the good news is that the characters are fun to hang around with – and the cast is pretty damn solid, to boot. Clifton Collins Jr. is a particular delight as a spoiled rich kid whose physical affliction plays wonderfully into the story, and genre icon Lance Henriksen even pops up as a booze-loving mayor.
As for the main characters, Matt O’Leary plays Paul while Jessica Cook is his boss Julia, and a surprisingly sweet love story between the two beats at the heart of Stung. Individually, O’Leary hits a home run playing the most unlikely of heroes, and Cook makes for a genuinely badass final girl of sorts. You’re likely to find yourself genuinely caring about both, which is merely the icing on this particular cake.
I noted in the opening paragraph that Stung doesn’t play by modern creature feature rules, and the most refreshing thing about the film is that it’s never poking fun at itself, or pointing out how silly it is. It’s not that Diez takes the material too seriously, as he certainly does not, but it’s nice to see a straight up creature feature for a change, rather than one that seems to be making a mockery of the sub-genre.
Again though, Stung‘s biggest fault is that there just aren’t that many laughs present throughout the film. Diez nails the horror aspect with great creature effects, but Adam Aresty’s script is seriously devoid of the sort of laugh-out-loud humor that really makes a horror-comedy work. The actors do their best to bring some humor to the proceedings, but the dialogue falls flat much more than it inspires laughs.
The good news is that Stung imparts such a quick blast of fun that you probably won’t even mind that it’s not all that funny. Running just over 80 minutes long, there are very few dull moments once the action gets going, and by the end I think you’ll agree when I say that the film is considerably better than anything you’ll find on Syfy – it’s frankly the sort of B-movie the network wishes they could make.
If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned creature feature, and you absolutely love well-done practical effects, Stung comes highly recommended.