Sting (2024) Review

Sting (2024) Review

Sting (2024)
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Screenwriters: Kiah Roache-Turner
Starring: Ryan Corr, Alyla Browne, Penelope Mitchell, Robyn Nevin, Noni Hazelhurst, Silvia Colloca, Danny Kim, Jermaine Fowler

A giant spider movie. Almost like it’s been done before. Has it? And if it has, can we do anything new with it? This is the question asked by writer-director Kiah Roache-Turner, who takes a love of monster and sci-fi movies and puts them in an apartment building closed off by thick blankets of snow save for the odd visit from Frank the Exterminator (Jermaine Fowler). Frank has been called in because young Charlotte, played by Alyla Brown (Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga), has found a tiny spider, who she names Sting after the sword from The Hobbit. Unfortunately, Sting is an alien that has crashed into the apartment building a few moments before being discovered, and whilst Charlotte uses the buildings ducts to get around and explore, Sting uses them to hunt for food and grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger.

From the opening few minutes, the film understands that these monster movies have been done to death, and so needs to take a different tone rather than going for all-out horror. To that end, it makes the occasional joke at its own expense, throwing in bits of black humour and showing us Sting crashing to Earth in its Xenomorph-like pod in the opening few minutes. We’re in on it, it isn’t a mystery needing to be solved. It’s a giant alien spider, and it’s going to be a threat, so let’s have fun with it.

Taking this approach is risky. It gives a chance for a few more interesting pans and zooms, little bits of directorial extravagance which might completely take out any kind of horror being attempted by being just that little bit more flashy than one can get away with in a more comedy-oriented film. It isn’t a comedy, but the film injects enough humour to straddle that line quite a bit. It’s a massive risk, and the film’s success will depend almost wholly on how well it gets that edge-riding right.

Most of its components, thankfully, come together to give a pleasing horror experience. Browne’s Charlotte is easily the film’s shining light, with a wonderful mix of strength and truthful twelve-year-old in equal measure. She breaks down in furious tears at family revelations but will still find the resourcefulness to load up a supersoaker of spider-acid and go after her former monster, Ripley-style. Even when these family moments aren’t pulled off quite as well as they might seem on paper, Browne has the acting chops to hold it together even at such a young age.

When the horror properly hits, the film puts on as much as it can get away with considering the R (15 UK) rating. A few moments will get people squirming in their seats and looking away from the screen. The scare sequences, whilst not outstanding, nonetheless work for what they need to do. They give a jolt, they provide those scares, they move the plot on efficiently. And of course, it’s to do with spiders. For some, that’s always going to push the right buttons.

The apartment-block horror movie seems to be making a comeback. Between Evil Dead Rise, Destroy All Neighbours, and Sting, the impact of COVID-19 as an invisible, evil force shutting individuals up in their homes without much physical contact with the wider world, where a killer might enter unseen and strike one down without the dead being discovered for a long while, is clear to be seen. Sting goes further by trying to add in suggestions that Sting the spider might reflect the way social media forms a new replacement for the blank simulacra of reciprocal affection which has surged in the wake of a year with everyone shut inside with no contact with the outside world. The spider mimics the sound of an Instagram notification when it’s hungry, and technology in the block breaks down as Sting grows in size and power, suggesting the relationship between the two concepts and how feeding the internet addiction is fine until it rears its ugly head. It’s an interesting addition, if not fundamental to the film’s storyline.

Sting is a surprisingly enjoyable time, and far better than it should be, giving a short, sharp shock to the theatregoer. It doesn’t execute the sappy, nuclear-family part too well, and despite it wearing its influences on all eight of its sleeves, it never manages to become anything superior to its filmic food. Still, it’s a fun little film, and manages to pleasantly surprise with a 90-minute dash of arachnophobia.

Score: 17/24

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Scroll to Top