Sting (2024)

Director: Kiah Roache-Turner

Running Time: 91 Minutes

Starring: Alyla Browne, Ryan Corr, Penelope Mitchell, Robyn Nevin, Noni Hazlehurst, Silvia Colloca, Danny Kim, Jermaine Fowler

Following his post-apocalyptic sequel Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, writer/director Kiah Roache-Turner dials back the scope for a creature feature that will leave arachnophobes squirming. The opening sequence alone would make an effective short-film, as an elderly woman phones for an exterminator after being frightened by noises coming from within her walls.

A title sequence then follows, as the music-set scenes show a miniscule comet crashing through a window and landing within a dolls house. A spider emerges from the comet, only to be taken in as a pet by twelve-year-old Charlotte (Alyla Browne). Naming the spider Sting, the girl discovers that she does not have an ordinary spider as it can mimic noises and rapidly grows in size. It also has a ravenous appetite, which it willingly satisfies by feasting on the buildings residents.

Where the film is most effective is with the family drama, particularly with young Charlotte having trust issues after being abandoned by her biological father. She has an interest in making comic-books courtesy of step-father Ethan (Ryan Corr), who is struggling to balance fatherhood alongside his career as a comic-book artist and his day job as a building supervisor. The family unit may as well end there, considering how little of an impact the mother and baby make to the film.

This issue can be extended to the residents of an apartment block, as most are archetypes who audiences do not get to know or care for. A special mention is deserved for an entertaining Jermaine Fowler as exterminator Frank, yet he feels like the rarity amidst an assortment who barely register. It is an issue that could have been avoided courtesy of a longer runtime, and the same can be said about Charlotte's bond with Sting. While the film wants audiences to believe in this pairing before the terror splits them apart, it unfortunately feels overlooked before the arachnid undertakes a feasting rampage.

Bringing the film alive are a combination of gruesome imagery and tremendous effects, making for a creepy use of the titular spider and the terror left in its wake. A moment involving Sting entering somebody's mouth will conjure a fresh nightmare for arachnophobes. While darkly comedic moments are peppered throughout the film, one wishes the comedy/horror balance was more fine-tuned and less mismatched. It may not reach the heights of 1990's Arachnophobia, but Sting is a solid time for anybody that seeks grisly kills and genre thrills.

Sting is now available in U.S. cinemas, and in U.K. cinemas from May 3rd.