Directed By: Benni Diez
Starring: Clifton Collins Jr., Jessica Cook, Tony de Maeyer
Tag line: "The Ultimate Buzzkill"
Trivia: Writer Adam Aresty came up with the idea for the story while working as a caterer at an outdoor party with a severe wasp infestation problem
As a result of her father’s recent death, Julia (Jessica Cook) has inherited the family catering business, and despite her nervous disposition, she intends to keep it afloat for as long as she can. Her first gig as boss is a party being held on the decaying estate of Mrs. Perch (Eve Slatner), a wealthy widow who lives with her hunchbacked son Sydney (Clifton Collins Jr.). To ensure everything goes off without a hitch, Julia keeps her lone employee, the normally volatile Paul (Matt O’Leary), on a short leash, ignoring his romantic overtures and insisting that he remain professional at all times. But it isn’t Paul who’s going to ruin this particular shindig; it’s the local wasp population, which, for some inexplicable reason, is getting more aggressive with each passing minute. Before anyone knows what’s hit them, Julia, Paul, Sydney, and the other guests are running for their lives, one very short step ahead of the hundreds of killer wasps that have crashed the party.
Based on its trailer, I was expecting director Benni Diez’s Stung to have a lot in common with Infestation, another giant bug movie that also had its share of comedy. But while this 2015 film does feature a few funny moments (many of which come courtesy of Lance Henriksen, who plays the gruff, no-nonsense, and often drunk party guest / mayor of the community in which all hell breaks loose), Stung plays it straight for the majority of its runtime, with revelers falling, one by one, to the huge, rather disgusting wasps that come crawling out of a hole in the ground. What makes these bugs all the more treacherous is that they don’t sting to kill; much like the title creature in Alien, Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 sci-fi / horror film, these wasps use their human victims as incubators, laying eggs inside of them that “hatch” into even bigger flying bugs. So, as you can imagine, Stung gets a bit messy at times, and thanks to some well-executed CG and special effects, we witness every drop of the blood and gore that fills the second half of the movie.
A throwback of sorts to the 1950’s, when giant bug films like Them!, Tarantula, and The Deadly Mantis were scaring the bejesus out of the movie-going public, a number of killer insect flicks have emerged in the last 10 years, some good (In my opinion, The Mist is one of the all-time best Stephen King adaptations) and some bad (like 2011’s abysmal Camel Spiders). With its fast-paced story, better-than-average effects, and unique hero (portrayed as something of a clown early on, Matt O’Leary’s Paul proves to be the bravest of the bunch), Stung takes its place alongside Infestation and Big Ass Spider as one of the better modern insect / monster movies.