What I'm Watching: Stung
You know, I've been hearing about the actual, real life, potential for invasions of killer bees as an invasive species for much of my life. I am honestly surprised there are not more movies about evil bees.
Fortunately, there is now Stung.
Bees. My god.
And okay, sure, they're wasps, not bees in the movie. But as Lance Henriksen himself says in the movie, who gives a shit?
Stung revolves around a small, two-person catering company, doing their yearly duty to cater a gathering out in the country. But then the party gets invaded by a gigantic swarm of wasps that start going after everyone and their little dog too. Because otherwise this would be a boring movie.
A horrific attack of normal wasps would be more than enough for a story, but things take a turn for the much, much worse when the party-goers discover that once a person has been stung, a newer, bigger wasp tears out of their body. It's like wasps by way of Alien. Sure, let's just smash those two nightmares together.
After the setup and initial massacre, the plot slows down a little as the few survivors hunker down in the basement to plot what to do next or just wait things out, but the banter and actors keep things lively enough. If not for the chemistry and banter between the two leads (And some help from Lance Henriksen), this movie would be a long, boring slog, because they tend to slow things down to give the characters and audience a lot of breathers between violent attacks. Matt O'Leary (Whom I last gave major props to in my review of Time Lapse) and Jessica Cook do a great job as the caterers. The come off as friendly, people you'd like to know, and they react in realistic fashions to the wasps. A bit of panic, but also keeping cool heads since Matt's character has lifeguard training, and that kicks in when people need saving.
Stung is violent, it's bloody, and it's never trying to take itself too seriously. The explanation as to why this is happening is so super simple to the point of bordering on the absurd, and that sums up the movie really well. The plot is simple and straightforward with only a few twists, and it is quite absurd, but fun. It doesn't care about the hows in more than glancing blows to the necessity of plot, and it just wants to have fun with a gross giant insect horror comedy. The sooner it gets around to that, the better. The talky bits do drag a tad, and it takes awhile for things to get going, but once there are giant wasps going all Xenomorph on the Mansion Nostromo, it's a ton of fun. And as I said, the characters are likable enough and the dialogue solid enough to carry through the slower scenes.
The movie wastes no time in tearing through the garden party, and I am honestly surprised by how few characters are left, and how *bad* things get, when there is still a decent chunk of movie left. Things get a bit generic and shouty once we're down to just the two leads trying to survive and being hurt.
Sidney is maybe a little too quirky for his own good. I get what the actor was going for, and it's certainly an interesting and odd take, but it pushes things a bit too hard with the twitchy awkwardness of it. Sidney's role kept pushing me out of the movie, and I wish it was dialed back just a hair. It definitely works later on when things have gotten horrible, but it was too much, too soon.
The movie is full of wonderfully absurd nonsense. I mean, just the idea of wasps tearing out of people fully formed and giant sized in mere moments is downright ludicrous. And that's just the start of it. I mean, come on. THEY WILHELMED A WASP at one point. I may be getting sick of the WilhelmScream, but that...that was brilliant in its absurdity, and I forgive it. Also, the image of a gigantic, human-sized wasp, ON FIRE, and still attacking people may be my single favourite visual in all of moviedom in 2015.
And the ending is the ballsiest move since the stinger *ahem* to Zombeavers. What the movie lacks in speed, it makes up for in "...whut."
I also have to give major, major love to them using a lot of practical giant wasp puppetry. They could've gone for CGI, but making the wasps physical things lends a LOT to this movie's credibility, and the gooey squishy nature of smashing them just adds to the squick factor of this movie. It really wouldn't have been the same if they had used CGI more than the sparing moments they did utilise it as necessary.
And making the leads be caterers is another thing I loved. It's not seen often, and it is actually important to the plot, at least in where many of their weapons come from. Making it be the every day common worker people at the party that survives and fights while the rich people get slaughtered is another nice bit of storytelling and metaphor.
Stung is far from great, but it is thoroughly entertaining, with a lot of style, and brilliant use of puppetry and physical effects. It is absolutely worth checking out.