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April 12, 2024 / Well Go USA

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

Directed By: Kiah Roache-Turner

After raising an unnervingly talented spider in secret, 12-year-old Charlotte must face the facts about her pet—and fight for her family’s survival—when the once-charming creature rapidly transforms into a giant, flesh-eating monster.

Written By Darren Zakus

Ratting 4 out of 5

Sting revels in its creature feature mayhem and quickly becomes an unforgettable, heart pounding experience of horror that will leave you screaming in terror thanks to outstanding special effects and quickly paced run time that never lets you catch your breath.

It’s safe to say that a good number of people have a fear of spiders, and that is exactly what writer and director Kiah Roache-Turner plays with in his latest film. Over the course of ninety minutes, Roache-Turner manages to create one of the most nerve wracking and terrifying experiences in recent memory. I cannot remember the last time I audibly screamed out loud multiple times during a horror movie, and I don’t even have a fear of spiders. But I quite possibly do after this film! And needless to say if you are afraid of them at all, this is the last movie you ever want to watch. For any other horror fans, while smaller in budget, the excellent visual effects work to bring to life the titular spider and the carnage that ensues a bloody and terrifying experience from start to finish, reminding you how much fun there is to be had with creature features.

Some of the scariest stories ever told are based in human fear, and with Roache-Turner having strong arachnophobia, the entire story creates an unnerving watch as he taps into this fear. It’s told with a keen eye for what is scary about spiders, as Roache-Turner turns it into a story of survival against a bloodthirsty predator with an unquenchable appetite. At the centre of the film is a family drama, and while it plays on familiar plots that we have seen before in the horror genre, it's a story you don’t normally don’t see in the creature feature subgenre. It creates the heart of the film, with a wonderful and layered tale of parents, children and fractured families that we can all relate to, which bonds the audience to the main family who become targets of the blood thirsty spider. While it takes a while for the carnage to truly begin, the screenplay and direction set up an effectively creepy atmosphere to the film, ensuring that you are jumping out of your seat every time Sting appears on screen, takes a victim, or mimics a sound. And then when the absolutely bonkers third act begins, it’s equally terrifying and fun with the Home Alone-esque approach Charlotte, our young heroine, takes on fighting her pet spider turned bloodthirsty monster.

The film is only bolstered by two strong performances from Ryan Corr and Alyla Browne as Ethan and Charlotte respectively. Corr possesses a natural charm that brings Ethan to life, with all of his flaws as he tries to connect with his wife’s daughter, creating a real man just trying to do best by his family. Browne is fearless as Charlotte, showcasing a talent far beyond her age that drives the film’s final act, while the bond between Corr and Browne’s characters on screen is truly touching and brings life to the heart of the film. And despite a smaller role, Jermaine Fowler delivers some truly hilarious moments as the exterminator who finds himself way out of his depth.

With the involvement of WETA Workshop in New Zealand led by creative director Richard Taylor, who previously worked on The Lord of the Rings films, Blade Runner 2049 and King Kong, it comes as no surprise that the visual effects are absolutely outstanding! Utilizing 3D printing technology to create a life size spider and puppeteering to have it moving around the set, not only does it create a visceral response for the actors, it does the same for viewers! Dripping with venom, razor sharp teeth and designed like an ordinary spider that has grown ginormous in size, the design of the creature is grounded in reality but augmented to become the stuff of nightmares. Combined with the single location of the apartment building, which itself is not very big, the action is compacted to one location which creates a claustrophobic feeling for both the characters and the audience, providing nowhere to hide from Sting and his deadly rampage. The results are horrifying in every sense of the word, creating a movie monster within the horror genre that throws back to the greats like Jaws, Alien and The Thing.

It’s not often that I feel the urge to warn viewers of the unfathomable terror of a horror film, because that is half of the fun of watching films in the horror genre, but Sting is one film that I will simultaneously be recommending and cautioning potential viewers to buckle in for one terrifying experience. Full of blood curdling terror thanks to outstanding visual effects work that bring to life the film’s titular killer arachnid, it’s been a while since I’ve come across a horror film that is this terrifying. Packed with blood soaked kills, strong performances from Ryan Corr and Alyla Browne, and a genius direction from Kiah Roache-Turner that weaponizes fear of spiders against viewers to create a terrifying vision that callbacks to some of cinema’s greatest creature features, Sting is guaranteed to give your vocal chords a good work out from uncontrollable screaming thanks to a horror film that may just scare you to death.

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