“The Ultimate Buzzkill.”
Director: Benni Diez
Cast: Matt O’Leary, Jessica Cook, Clifton Collins Jr.
Synopsis: A fancy garden party turns into upper class prey when a colony of killer wasps mutates into seven foot tall predators.
WARNING! This review contains SPOILERS!
Bugs and insects are often bothersome at garden parties, but the guests at the annual event held by wealthy dowager Mrs Perch (Eve Slatner) find themselves the recipients of the mother of all insect attacks when her pet dog Percy inadvertently uncovers a nest of oversized wasps shortly before the party is due to begin. The gathering is small enough to be catered for by two people, Julia (Jessica Cook), who’s just inherited the catering company from her deceased father, and her assistant, Paul (Matt O’Leary – The Lone Ranger, Time Lapse), who’s clearly more interested in bedding the boss than serving drinks to a bunch of aging toffs. Not long after Mrs Perch’s creepy hunchbacked son Sidney (Clifton Collins Jr – Pacific Rim) has delivered a speech to the assembled friends, the trickle of wasps that emerged from a hole in the ground following Percy’s digging frenzy suddenly becomes a flood that makes a beeline (geddit?) for the partygoers.
This sudden blitzkrieg of angry wasps which so rudely dispels the previously sedate pace is staged with impressive intensity by first-time director Benni Diez, who makes good use of his experience in make-up and special effects. Those unfortunate enough to feel the sting of the wasps are doomed to a short and painful future as they are actually injecting larvae into their bodies, most of which hatch giant offspring within seconds. At this point, Stung holds the promise of one of those unheralded wonders of gory humour that occasionally flies under the radar, but for some reason Adam Aresty’s screenplay trips itself up by killing off all but four of its characters in this initial assault. Even worse, we can be fairly certain of the fates that await this handful of survivors, and therefore spend a good portion of the movie simply waiting for the inevitable to happen.
Despite its pacing problem, Stung is a fun movie which fondly harks back to the cheap creature features of the 1970s and ‘80s. It even finds room for Lance Henricksen (Aliens, Inanimate) who, despite playing both an alcoholic and a local politician actually comes across as a sympathetic character. The old maestro bosses every scene he’s in, but horror movie lore dictates that all politicians and dogs must die (that’s right: little Percy pays the price for his indiscriminate digging), and all too soon poor old Lance has met his sticky end. With Sidney covertly hosting a larva that takes an unusually long time to hatch, it’s not long before the catering team, as always, is left alone to clear up after the party. At least Cook and O’Leary make a likeable duo, and it makes a nice change to see the heroine given an equal share of the heroics for once.
Although Stung has nothing new to offer, and follows horror movie formula to an almost slavish degree, it at least has enough personality and sense of humour to overcome these deficits and provide the viewer with a mildly entertaining spoof.
(Reviewed 20th November 2015)