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Dustin Putman

Stung  (2015)
2½ Stars
Directed by Benni Diez.
Cast: Matt O'Leary, Jessica Cook, Lance Henriksen, Clifton Collins Jr., Cecilia Pillado, Eve Slatner, Kathleen Renish, David Masterson, Daniele Rizzo.
2015 – 87 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R for violence and gore, and for language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, October 26, 2015.
In ickily fun creature feature "Stung," a ritzy garden party at a rural New York manor is interrupted by insatiable wasps affected by fertilizer and growth hormones. The script by Adam Aresty is only so-so, but the onscreen realization of its gross, goopy, inventive ideas is pulled off quite well by director Benni Diez (making his feature debut). The unlikely heroes of the piece are Julia (Jessica Cook), who has recently inherited her late father's catering business, and semi-slacker employee Paul (Matt O'Leary), a bartender. They have arrived at a beautiful, old estate in the countryside (Germany not so believably stands in for the U.S. East Coast) for their latest gig, but the somewhat uppity celebration is rudely interrupted by an onslaught of fast-growing wasps that infect their prey from the inside out. As Paul and Julia fight for survival alongside the remaining guests—among them, mayor Caruthers (Lance Henriksen) and the dysfunctional mother-son hosts of the event, Mrs. Perch (Eve Slatner) and Sydney (Clifton Collins Jr.)—their traumatic experience also begins to bring them together romantically.

"Stung" was made for a trim $2.5-million, but its production values—particularly the tremendously savvy practical effects and capable, judiciously used CG—are often more accomplished than those found in some $100-million-plus blockbusters. The old-school leanings of the picture go a long way in allowing the viewer to buy into the crazy, horrific mayhem, especially as the oversized wasps begin ripping out of their victims, human heads still hideously attached to the insects' limbs. There are a few draggy spots in the middle act, but they are consistently offset by another attention-grabbing money shot or memorably tense situation. Reminding a bit of 1988's "The Nest" while one-upping it in terms of its cinematic vision and means, "Stung" boasts a lively level of showmanship which carries it through its rather predictable narrative course.
© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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