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  • Nate Adams

'Sting' review: Creature feature spins a familiar, if mildly amusing web


Courtesy of Well-Go USA

 

Anyone who calls themselves a horror fan usually loves creature features. Everything from “Mimic,” to “Anaconda,” delivers larger-than-love monsters that prey and attack on human flesh, oftentimes dismembering unsuspecting characters who investigated that strange noise down the hall. “Sting” is the latest entry in this long-running genre and it certainly doesn’t rise to the pulpy, B-movie level of something like “Eight Legged Freaks,” but there’s enough practical effects and contained action to deliver a decent, if forgettable excursion. In fact, it’s destined to have an extended cable life on the Syfy channel. 


“Sting” might be your run-of-the-mill horror flick that lacks the creative flair of various monsters films before it (think “Predator” or “Alien”), though writer-director Kiah Toache-Turner tries taking a page from the “Jaws” playbook and allowing our imaginations to do some heavy lifting. The story follows Charlotte (Alyla Browne) who is acclimating to life under her new stepfather, Ethan (Ryan Corr) in an apartment complex he manages.


Of course, Charlotte and Ethan struggle to find common ground, and that’s when she turns her attention towards an extraterrestrial spider that shot into her bedroom during a meteor shower. Naming her new arachnid pet Sting, Charlotte grows an attachment with the creepy crawler and watches it evolve into the size of an SUV as she feeds it bugs and other household items. You’d think after watching it get exponentially bigger over the span of two days that perhaps something was wrong, and, naturally, Sting easily escapes from his mason jar captivity and begins terrorizing residents (and pets) by traveling into apartments via a ventilation system. 


As a monster movie of the week, “Sting” is passable: the spider’s aesthetic that Roache-Turner and her team have come up with feels very much like its own thing. There’s some intriguing sound design, and the film cleverly toys with shadows and WETA Workshop has crafted some slick practical effects that belong in the same category as James Gunn’s “Slither.” Everything else is a total wash. The eccentricity of the characters living in the building doesn’t evolve beyond caricature and Jermaine Fowler annoyingly screams and howls through a performance as a local exterminator who quickly becomes entangled within Sting’s orbit. And the friction between Charlotte and Ethan seems copy and pasted from a completely different movie.   


Giant spiders will always be terrifying and “Sting” reinforces why so many of us are easily spooked by these eight legged creatures. I wish the film had leaned into that organic sense of danger rather than try and fail to introduce us to characters who inevitably become dinner and then force an awkward father-daughter conflict that’s more laughable than a giant spider crawling through vents and eviscerating chihuahua's.


Grade: B- 


STING opens in theaters Friday, April 12th 


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