Director Benni Diez makes his feature film debut with the practical effects-driven creature feature Stung, a gooey thriller packed with laughs and mayhem. In it, a fancy garden party turns into upper class prey when a colony of killer wasps mutates into seven foot tall predators. It’s a modern day take on the nature-run-amok films, only this one is brutally bloody and a lot more people die.
It’s a very straight-forward little film, introducing us to its main characters quickly and then throwing them into a shitstorm of killer wasps just as fast. Diez smartly wastes no time in getting his thriller to the good stuff, either, which any fan of this particular genre should appreciate. The blood flows just as soon as your seat gets warm, and what a glorious amount there is. The story opens with Julia and Paul—the two are catering a fancy dinner party—who have a charming but all to predictable love/hate relationship; Julia is all business whereas Paul is the goofy guy trying to get the girl. That cliche aside, the two are a fantastic duo, giving Stung an appropriately fun pulse, especially once the killer wasps show up.
I can always appreciate a film that knows exactly what it is, and in Stung’s case, it’s a movie about a bunch of unfortunate people in the wrong place at the wrong time when hundreds of giant wasps decide to come out and play. And there’s a wonderful, unexplained madness to Diez’s film, as it barely explains the origins of these nasty insects. You just have to accept the mayhem and go along for the ride, which is exactly how it should be in a movie about giant mutated monster bugs.
But let’s get to the reason we’re here in the first place—the nightmare-inducing wasps that terrorize Stung. Made up of both CGI and a wicked dose of practical effects, Stung’s wasps are the driving force behind the film, killing everything they come in contact with and looking gloriously gross while doing it. If you’re unlucky enough to get stung by one of these nasty creatures, a massive wasp quickly grows inside of your body until it’s so big that it bursts from within, leaving nothing behind but a pile of skin and guts. A giant wasp flying around with the fleshy face of its former host hanging from its body is every bit as terrifying as it is hilarious, and there’s plenty of that going around in this one. So if you came for bug-fueled carnage, you won’t be disappointed.
And although there’s certainly a lot of good in Stung, what I thought weighed it down was that it never really sets itself apart from the other modern day creature features out there. It follows a very predictable path with familiar beats, even ending on a note that you’ll more than likely see coming. It’s an unfortunate misstep in an otherwise fantastic creature feature with awesome special effects and a lightning-quick story. Diez is an exciting new talent in the world of film and I can’t wait to see what he does next, especially with a wonderful debut like Stung leaving behind a particularly bloody mark.
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