Movie Review: ‘Sting’

by | Apr 14, 2024 | Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Review by James Lindorf

Writer-Director Kiah Roache-Turner (Wyrmwood series) is trading in one of the most popular horror movie monsters, zombies, for one of the world’s most common phobias. While plenty of people find spiders scary, they often don’t get much time to shine in horror movies. When they have been the focus, most movies have been geared towards comedy like “Eight Legged Freaks” and “Lavalantula,” with only 1990’s “Arachnophobia” finding wide success while playing it mostly straight. Roache-Turner will attempt to walk the fine line between gory creature feature and serious horror allegory when “Sting” lands in theaters on April 12th.

12-year-old Charlotte (Alyla Browne) lives in a decaying apartment building owned by her Grandmother (Robyn Nevin) with her mother Heather (Penelope Mitchell) and stepfather Ethan (Ryan Corr). Ethan works as the building superintendent, but he and Charlotte bond over his dream of writing graphic novels. While still sad about her absent father, Charlotte is generally happy, but when she has to adjust to a newborn brother, Heather, and Ethan working multiple jobs to provide for them, it leads to a rebellious streak. In classic ’80s horror movie style, Charlotte spends a lot of time alone exploring areas of the apartment building that should be off-limits. On one of those trips, she finds what appears to be a unique species of spider, which she affectionately named Sting. The spider gives her undivided attention and can even communicate with her by mimicking whistles. When a series of mysterious deaths begin to plague the building, it is apparent that there is more to Sting than meets the eye.

Though some may deny it, horror movies are often about much more than splatter. They were often morality tales about how the characters who abstain from a multitude of sins are the ones who survive. Roache-Turner’s previous focus, zombies, have frequently been used as a metaphor for many social and political themes including slavery, consumerism, conformity, and the loss of meaning. “Sting” represents more personal elements, such as how getting lost in the day-to-day and letting things go unaddressed jeopardizes our most important relationships. Heather and Ethan are so caught up in providing for their family that they forget to nurture it. Add in Heather’s refusal to address the truth about Charlotte’s father, and it is a ticking time bomb as frustrations and resentment build in the tiny apartment. When a predator of any kind is introduced into an ecosystem full of vulnerable people, it is going to be explosive, and you have to hope everyone makes it out alive.

“Sting” opens with a flash forward like so many films but unlike the typical use we don’t see the scene again until well into the climax. Commonly, those moments add some initial excitement while highlighting what should be a pivotal moment in the film. Here, it serves the first purpose, but being left for so long makes it feel meaningless and just a way to introduce a couple of laughs and another death late in the film. Which isn’t needed because there are several deaths, some by characters so meaningless they might as well have died in red shirts. While not all of the characters have much to offer, Ethan and Charlotte are complex, relatable, and frustrating as you watch them make a series of mistakes. Thankfully, Browne and Corr are up to the task and give the best performances in the film. Browne is especially impressive as a child actor, giving a multilayered performance and being believable in each moment. Their performances add a layer of authenticity and depth to the movie.

Potential flaws like the disjointed feeling of the opening scene and the film being over-stuffed with references instead of being Roache-Turner’s own thing are quickly forgotten when the climax begins. Once Jermaine Fowler, as Frank, the exterminator, starts making jokes and Charlotte goes full Ripley with a squirt gun in place of a flamethrower, the movie becomes horror movie fun. The action involved in the climax pushes the emotional story to the side a little, making it unclear if this will be simple trauma bonding that won’t last or genuine appreciation cementing a new family. “Sting” has a good story, entertaining scares, and well-choreographed action, but because it tries so hard to be like the films we love, it does not reach their levels. Still, as an entertaining kid-centric horror movie that explores the importance of nurturing relationships, it earns a 4 out of 5.

Rating: R (Bloody Images|Violent Content|Language)
Genre: Horror, Mystery & thriller
Original Language: English
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Producer: Jamie Hilton, Michael Pontin, Chris Brown
Writer: Kiah Roache-Turner
Release Date (Theaters): Apr 12, 2024 Wide
Runtime: 1h 31m
Distributor: Well Go USA Entertainment