Sting Review | Just Another Not-So-Friendly Neighbourhood Spider Movie

by Andrew Parker

Sting is one of those movies that’s fine enough for what it is, but there’s not much to say about it beyond that. It picks a lane, follows it dutifully, and never over or under-whelms. Sting knows what it needs to succeed and mounts nothing more or nothing less. It’s a passable diversion, but not something that seems destined to be a genre classic. If creepy-crawlies put you on edge, and you like to be scared by them, Sting will offer up some unnerving delights. For everyone else, it’s an okay way to spend ninety minutes.

Twelve year old Charlotte (Alyla Brown) lives in a Brooklyn apartment building with her mother (Penelope Mitchell), six month old baby brother, and stepfather (Ryan Corr), a comic book artist who also happens to be the building superintendent. The rebellious, inquisitive, and borderline morbid Charlotte likes to sneak around the building’s ventilation systems to spy on the building’s other residents, including her senile grandmother (Noni Hazelhurst), a creepy guy doing biological research on fish (Danny Kim), a perpetually drunk chihuahua owner (Silvia Colloca), and the gruff old slumlord that runs the place (Robyn Nevin). One day during a sustained snow and ice storm, an egg from space crashes through the window of one of the units, revealing a spider of some sort. Charlotte captures the alien being as a pet, but it’s not too long before this creature starts feeding on the building’s residents.

Sting has a set-up reminiscent of plenty of creature features, most notably the Critters franchise (which itself had an entire entry set in an apartment building). Written and directed by Australian filmmaker Kiah Roache-Turner (Wyrmwood), Sting doesn’t have a lot of pretensions bogging it down, which is both a good and a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with a film that sticks to what it’s good at, but it’s also hard to fully embrace something that feels so forcefully pitched straight down the middle.

Brown makes for a compelling young heroine, and the relationship Charlotte has with her stepfather (who is helping to bring her own comic book vision to life) is certainly thoughtful and heartfelt. Everyone else here – including a number of feathered and four legged friends – are simply spider food. They’re all set up just to be knocked down in gruesome ways. The gore is pretty good, Turner makes great use of the single building setting, the spider is moderately scary, and some of the kills have a nice degree of ingenuity. The requisite stinger to set up for future instalments can be seen coming from space, but then again, this is one of those movies where eagle eyed, attentive viewers will be able to predict the overall trajectory within seconds of it starting, possibly even before they enter the theatre. Are there gruesome webs? Yup. Will there be a lot of near misses? Naturally. Is there an exterminator character on hand for comedic relief? You betcha, and it’s memorably played to the hilt by Jermaine Fowler.

Sting clears a low bar, but clears it nonetheless. One could either see that as praising mediocrity or as a genuine compliment. A viewer’s mileage comes down to how much they enjoy an old school creature feature. If you like them, you’ll probably like this well enough. If you don’t, you won’t. There’s not much else to say about Sting, but I am grateful that movies like this make my job somewhat easier.

Sting opens in select cities on Friday, April 12, 2024.

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