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Film4 FrightFest 2015 review: Stung – “an all-out creepy crawly creature feature”


Stung is directed by Benni Diez, and stars Jessica Cook (Awkward.) and Matt O’Leary (Brick). This is Diez’s first feature, but he has previously made some shorts, as well as supervising the visual effects on Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. His previous visual effects experience serves him well here, as getting the effects spot on really puts the sting in Stung.

Will they, won’t they caterers Paul (O’Leary) and Julia (Cook) are providing the food and drink for a posh party in the countryside. Hunchback mummy’s boy, Sydney (Clifton Collins Jr. – Crank: High Voltage) is throwing the shindig in honour of his dearly departed dad – a former employee of an experimental growth hormone chemical company. See where this is going yet?

Unfortunately for the guests, who include the Mayor – played by legend Lance Henriksen – and our heroic caterers, Sydney has been supplementing the fertilizer used on the grounds with his dad’s turbo-charged Baby Bio. The local wasp population have managed to get a dose of it and now swelled in size, number, and viciousness.

As the party gets swinging the wasps start stinging, and panic ensues in a set-piece garden party massacre that is enormous skin-crawling fun. The physical effects are excellent, and this is showcased in what happens to any humans unlucky enough to get stung. Delightfully disgusting under-the-skin effects, reminiscent of Ticks, show the bug gestating inside its hapless host, before splitting their face open and struggling out – now human size.

The survivors take cover from the giant insects in the house’s basement for a breather and some character development. This section could have been a real drag, but Lance Henriksen throws all his experience and charisma behind it and makes it work. A fatherly and charming boozehound, Henriksen’s performance as the mayor not only adds a dose of class to the picture, but deftly draws out some nice character moments from our leads.

The spoiled and sly Sydney then wrecks the party for a second time, when we discover that he has been hiding something from the group that again puts them all in life-threatening danger, and leads to a wonderfully freeky-deeky keeping-it-in-the-family final third.

The films’ final creature lets the side down in a big way, and is tellingly the only totally computer generated one of the giant bugs. Lacking texture, and poorly artificially lit, it sticks out and robs the finale of the fear and threat it had solidly built thus far. Thankfully, a final scene that is both hilarious and excitingly sequel-spawning, means that it all still ends on a big high.

Stung is an unashamedly all-out creepy crawly creature feature. The practical effects are brilliant; bringing to life nightmarish buzzing mutant wasps that will make you itch, wince and cower; and Henriksen is great value.



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