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Billed as an arachnophobic nightmare, Sting lacks the cutting edge to become an indie horror classic and falls short in pursuit of comic relief.


When an alien spider crash lands in New York, 12-year-old Charlotte (Alyla Browne) makes the mistake of trying to raise it as a pet. Nicknamed ‘Sting’, the arachnid grows at an alarming rate that puts even NYC rats to shame, until mere cockroaches are no longer enough to sustain its unquenchable thirst. While she may have started as the creature’s foster mother, Charlotte soon realises that she and her family have adopted a far more sinister role – dinner!


While Sting has its moments, the eight-legged horror never quite gets you on the edge of your seat, nor does it leave you cowering behind it. Kiah Roache-Turner’s spider flick focuses heavily on the dynamic between Charlotte, her mother Heather (Penelope Mitchell) and step-father Ethan (Ryan Corr), all of whom give an honest and believable portrayal of a family under strain. Unfortunately, that is where Sting both thrives and gets caught in its own tangled web.

By grounding itself on such a serious familial storyline, Sting instantly takes itself more seriously than perhaps it should. While the acting performances of the central characters are more than commendable, the plot, script and budget simply don’t lend themselves to that kind of film. This is almost admitted to the audience within the first five minutes, as we open to a ‘four days before’ flashback in order to shoehorn some early blood, guts and action into our evening’s entertainment.


The ingredients are all there for us to enjoy. Creature vs human, epic gory death scenes, and tension galore, but the movie ironically lacks the necessary sting to bring it all together. Using a mixture of CGI and model work to bring the arachnid nemesis to life, Sting would have perhaps been more suited to a devastating portrayal similar to Calvin from Life (2017) or Alien vs Predator – an unstoppable alien force that has the ability to create terror for fun. With the main characters never truly feeling in danger, we lack that unfightable urge to look away at the sight of Ryan Reynolds getting eaten from the inside.

Roache-Turner attempts to inject some humour and quirkiness into the script with some chuckle-worthy deadpan delivery from weird upstairs neighbour, Erik (Danny Kim), and the sheer eccentrics of Cruella Deville-esque, Gunter (Robyn Nevin). Regrettably, the weird and the wacky is only ever used as comic relief, rather than a noteworthy theme. Had Sting been slightly more self-aware and leant into the silliness of it all, it could have been a far more enjoyable movie-going experience. Imagine a killer alien spider chasing New Yorkers around an apartment building to the soundtrack to a heavy metal version of Itsy-Bitsy Spider!


In the end, Sting weaves two different webs of horror and humour, but is never quite able to connect them in a meaningful or satisfying way. Having said that, Alyla Browne leads the cast superbly and prevents the film from falling completely flat.

Sting is by no means a helpless fly, but it definitely feels a few legs short of a spider.


Sting Rating



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