Stung (2015) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Did you hear about the wasp kung-fu master? He had 5 black belts

From German director Benni Diez comes this 2015 action adventure/ comedy film called “Stung“. Costing around $2.5 million to make it is considered a flop having only grossed about $72k, but this 87 minute film certainly shouldn’t be immediately written off, it has some fun moments in it and made for a decent film to pass some time with. The story comes from the mind of writer Adam Aresty, who won a screenwriting contest run by German production company Rat Pack in cooperation with Fantasy Filmfest. It was inspired by a time when he was attacked by wasps. On reading the story, Diez loved it because it spoke to him on different levels and felt like some of his favourite films, namely “Aliens“, “Jaws“, and “Tremors“. He was quoted as saying that if he were going to do a feature film, this would be his first because it had many of the elements of film and drama that he loved.

Mrs Perch hosts an annual garden party at her lavish estate in New York. The hired catering teams do their best to deal with a lot of the obnoxious guests while at the same time Paul is pining for his colleague Julia. Unfortunately there is trouble on the horizon as illegally imported fertilizer that has growth hormones has been used on the estate, and this inadvertently causes a swarm of wasps to mutate into 7ft killers that pray on the visitors to Mrs Perch’s garden party. In order for the killer wasps to reproduce, once they sting a human it is impregnated by a parasitic insect. Upon its birth, it tears the host apart in a grizzly way. With as many guests as Mrs Perch has, there is sure to be massive swarm causing trouble soon enough. It is up to a group of unexpected heroes, led by caters Julia and Paul to try and save the day.

The cast of the film deliver decent performances, and although it might be the Lance Henriksen is the biggest name you have heard of in this, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the other members of the acting cast. Matt O’Leary and Jessica Cook do well as the would-be heroes, and Clifton Collins Jr is fun as the odd-ball Sydney. The one main downside I found with the characters was Paul’s character as a stoner, it was not needed and must have been devised to strike a chord with a particular audience. I am sure other viewers might have different opinions here, but I could have enjoyed this without that aspect as there was still plenty going on. Still, the film prided itself on living in the moment; characters that are written into it do have complex backstories and lives outside of the events on show, but the film doesn’t bog you down trying to tell you every bodies story. It was nice to see this and made the escapism in the film more enjoyable and meant not having to think too much.

While the film is billed as a comedy, I did not find there were too many giggles in it, certainly not at the dialogue anyway. The laughs for me came from the effects and the horror of the setup, of the exploding cadavers and the wasps sporting the fleshy armour of the people that birthed them, of the cries of the wasps as they dies. The effects and cinematography were good, there was a darkness to the film which I can only assume was present to cover up some of the occasional CGI effects which could otherwise have looked a bit too cheesy. On the topic of effects and CGI, do not threat too much, there was a decent mix of practical effects on show here too which is always nice to see. The oversized wasps felt like a throwback to “Jason and the Argonauts“, “Them!“, or one of the many adventures of “Sinbad” but with the fleshy realism of many an 80’s horror film with its aesthetics. Although the film at time was admittedly a little predictable I can forgive it, I didn’t feel like it was trying to be clever and outwit the audience – it was what it was, escapism and fun. The pace of the film kept me entertained and the action on show was complimented with some lovely sound effects and a nice score – listen out for the Wilhelm scream from the Queen of the colony – that had me spitting snacks!! The location used might not have been New York, but in the filming location of Börnicke (Germany) was lovely and picturesque.

This German/ American independent film was fun to watch and had lots of nice elements to it. It is a throwback to a time when giant animal horror B-Movies were popular, particularly the 1950’s and 60’s. What seemed like it might be a cheap and camp attempt to produce a creature feature film ended up surprising me and I would happily recommend this as a good waste of time for horror fans like me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (7/10)

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