Digital Review: “STING”


To compare one horror film with another would often be like comparing a bicycle with a fighter jet. Both have wheels, but they have vastly different capacities and are completely unique experiences. Some are slow burns, crawling towards a climax that makes the journey all the more insidiously alarming. Others spend the totality of their runtimes with gross-out on-screen trauma. Such is why discussing “Sting,” the latest film to make its web in the arachnid category of the horror canon, should be in context with other like-legged creature features.
Despite a fear of spiders being a common response to “what are you afraid of?”, there aren’t too terribly many films that venture out in that universe. “Eight-Legged Freaks” was a poorly constructed homage to B-movie horror films of the 50’s and did little to incite fear in the insects. Though we get the thought behind it; the height of the  B-movie horror was filled with insect-led terror. 
Amblin-produced “Arachnophobia” is a quality spider-monster film with creepy crawly villains at its heart. It somehow turned little spiders into potential world-destroyers and spider bites into a death sentence. With over 20 years since the last mainstream arachnid film, “Sting” makes spiders scary again, standing as its own breed in the genre, piercing through audiences’ flesh with the right combination of humor, suspense, character development and, of course, horror. Set over the course of four days in one Brooklyn apartment complex snowed in by a winter storm, the film centers around Charlotte (Alyla Browne), a young girl struggling to find her orbit in the family after the birth of her new half-brother. She connects with her empathetic stepfather Ethan (Ryan Corr) but is still lost in grief and confusion from her biological father’s absence. Her prayers seem to be answered by a small ball of fire from outer space that shoots through a window of the building (yes, the spider is from outer space). From it, a spider-like being emerges and has every appearance of a normal house insect. After Charlotte claims this seemingly smart and precocious being as her newest pet, she learns it has incredible (and un-spiderlike) talents like the ability to mimic sounds and an insatiable appetite for much larger prey like rodents and birds. As the alien arachnid makes its way through the HVAC system of the building, the various residents must fight off a growing predator or face a fate worse than quick death. There are intriguing sub-plots, like Charlotte’s grandmother (Noni Hazlehurst), who is suffering from memory issues and fails to remember when the bug exterminator (Jermaine Fowler) makes several house visits to the funhouse of eight-legged nightmares. Or her neighbors in the apartment complex who succumb to the increasingly volatile and murderous bug, like Maria (Silvia Colloca), who’s grieving the devastating loss of her husband and children, or Erik (Danny Kim), the reclusive scientist who initially supports the creature’s evolution. As the threat of more alien spiders becomes a real possibility (our cinematic upbringing with films like “Aliens” has taught us that you never let the off-world life form procreate and/or successfully arrive on Earth), Charlotte must turn against her former ally to save her family and humanity at large. For a smaller film, the CGI mixed with some impressive practical visual effects are what works best about “Sting.” Five-time Academy Award Winner Weta Workshop, overseen by Creative Director Richard Taylor, created the physical effects from their New Zealand workshop, and they really will set your anxiety running. 
Sting” is a creepy crawly, squirm-in-your-seat ride. Writer-director Kiah Roache-Turner does a masterful job of creating a charming, detailed, moody scene onto which he can then terrorize his characters. It gives real “Krampus” vibes, isolating its subjects in a singular location forcing the action to take place in said confined space. Yet the character study that ensues and the rich world Roache-Turner builds from very little makes the film feel open to any possible outcome. With thoughtful, visionary guidance, “Sting” never feels claustrophobic, nor does it feel undercooked. The world built around the short span of the film’s action is visually engaging. The film moves quickly — 91 minutes to be exact — but steadily, pacing the action to spin a pretty silk turn and not abandoned cobwebs. The film is indeed creepy as I am personally fascinated with arachnids as well as fearing them (more so fascinated with them). This was a digital copy, as the Blu Ray won’t be available until June. But the digital copy is in high definition, so it’s very much like having a physical Blu Ray copy. But if spiders aren’t your thing, then you may want to avoid this one, as there are scenes of realistic sized spiders that will send shivers up your spine! The fear of perking into dark corners, big spider crawling on the ceiling, it’s all here! But when the spider gets to be an enormous size, then it’s no longer alarming, but a tribute to B-horror creature features. STING was a great time indeed! Unfortunately the digital copy did not come with extras, but perhaps the copy that will come with the Blu Ray in June will have extras. Picture and sound does not disappoint. As I noted, you get everything in a digital copy that you do in physical copies. Plenty of subwoofer activity as well as sound effects thru your surround speakers. But the film is R rated due to bloody images, violence and language. 
Film ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of 5)
Picture ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of 5)
Sound ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of 5)
Extras (none)


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