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Sting (15)

Cast: Alyla Browne, Ryan Corr, Jermaine Fowler, Noni Hazelhurst, Penelope Mitchell
Genre: Horror
Author(s): Kiah Roache-Turner
Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
Release Date: 31/05/2024
Running Time: 92mins
Country: Australia/US
Year: 2024

An asteroid cluster passes close to Earth and a mysterious object falls from the sky, smashing through an upstairs window of a rundown apartment building. A spider-like creature emerges from the crash-landed otherworldly egg and befriends 12-year-old Charlotte, who lives with her mother Heather, stepfather Ethan and six-month-old baby brother Liam. Charlotte christens her new companion Sting and the creature grows rapidly in size.

LondonNet Film Review

Sting (15) Film Review from LondonNet

During a jump scare-laden final act of writer-director Kiah Roache-Turner’s sleek horror, a wise-cracking exterminator (Jermaine Fowler) issues a stern warning against keeping eight-legged pets. “Spiders only know two things,” he counsels, “eat and kill.” The aggressive arachnid in Sting does both with relish to satisfy a hunger for unsuspecting humans and their pets across four days in snow-laden South Brooklyn. I suffer from arachnophobia and there are a couple of intense sequences in Roache-Turner’s picture that genuinely made my skin crawl…

That visceral response is largely thanks to the New Zealand-based special effects wizards at Weta Workshop, responsible for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. They realise the titular beast predominantly through physical effects including puppetry, trapping us in claustrophobic spaces with terrified characters and a merciless monster that suspends incapacitated prey from ceilings and walls in sticky webs. The running time is mercifully brisk – there’s no treading narrative water between kills like some monster movies – but character development sometimes suffers, particularly the trajectory of a fractious parent-child relationship that could be spun more elegantly.

Rising star Alyla Browne, who portrays the youngest incarnation of Furiosa in the most recent Mad Max saga, is compelling as a comic book-fixated adolescent who innocently invites a predator into her family home. Her transformation into pintsized avenging angel, crawling through ventilation ducts with a modified water pistol like Ripley in the first Alien film, is undeniably crowd-pleasing.

An asteroid cluster passes close to Earth and a mysterious object falls from the sky, smashing through an upstairs window of a rundown apartment building. A spider-like creature emerges from the crash-landed otherworldly egg and befriends 12-year-old Charlotte (Browne), who lives with her mother Heather (Penelope Mitchell), stepfather Ethan (Ryan Corr) and six-month-old baby brother Liam. “You are the bane of my existence,” Charlotte huffs at the bawling infant.

Charlotte christens her new companion Sting after an elven blade in JRR Tolkien’s fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings and keeps her eight-legged pet inside a glass jar in her bedroom. Sting secretly escapes and scuttles through ventilation ducts to observe neighbours including Charlotte’s grandmother Helga (Noni Hazlehurst) and monstrous great-aunt Gunter (Robyn Nevin). The creature grows rapidly in size, waiting to pounce on an all-you-can-chomp buffet of tasty treats on two legs.

Sting sends shivers down the spine like Arachnophobia and Eight Legged Freaks, exploiting the creature’s ability to scuttle up walls and along ceilings in pursuit of the next meal. It’s surely no coincidence the heroine’s name cheekily nods to the benevolent barn spider in the title of EB White’s children’s book. A lean script clearly telegraphs the final showdown between Charlotte and her oversized roommate. What a tangled and sticky web Roache-Turner weaves.

– Jo Planter

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