Remember those cheesy 1980’s B-movies that were so silly they were actually kind of amazing? “The Blob”, “Slugs”, “Class of Nuke ‘Em High”. Motion pictures that were too low-budget to reach the mainstream, but too dumb to fall under the art house umbrella. Those are the kinds of films that serve as inspiration for “Stung”, a new independent horror comedy that debuted at this year’s Tribecca Film Festival.
The story follows Julia and Paul, two catering staffers who have been hired by an old woman to bring food and service for her annual party. Julia and Paul both clearly like each other, but are seemingly too afraid to admit it. Their relationship starts to escalate, just as we find out that the old woman has used illegally imported plant fertiliser for her garden, resulting in the mutation of the local wasp population. The creatures begin to attack the guests, planting eggs inside them. It’s now up to Julia and Paul to save the day.
I never thought I’d say this, but we have a movie here that feels like a bad imitation of other B-movies. It lacks almost everything that a movie like it should be able to provide. It’s not funny, it’s not clever, and the deaths stop being amusing after the first 3 party members have been killed. The thing that makes a picture like “The Blob” so entertaining is the absurdity of it all. The thought of having ordinary people experience ridiculous scenarios, without a budget high enough to sustain the quality of that idea. But in this movie, all of the characters feel like cartoons. They don’t act like normal people do, not even on the most superficial level. It’s like they’re trying to comment on the fact that the concept here is stupid, which sadly negates the entire effect of leaving it to the audience to laugh at how obscure and bizarre the set-up is. Everyone is a caricature, and we can’t relate to that. We need to feel that we could live in this world, even if we don’t buy the circumstances or the premise. But this movie weirdly enough tries to be self-aware and serious at the same time. A cocktail that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, not wanting to ever recommend it to anyone.
The only thing this project really has going for it are the special effects, which I have to say are quite impressively integrated into the film. Whenever the insects wreak havoc, there are some cool shots of people getting ripped apart and penetrated by stings, which I suppose is one of the key points of appeal that a movie like this carries. Beyond that, though, there really isn’t much fun to be had here, unless all you crave is blood and guts. But it takes so long before the cool stuff sets in, and when it does, we constantly get interrupted by dull and underdeveloped character drama, which neither works or belongs in this type of genre film. I’m not saying there isn’t a little enjoyment to be had here, if you like this kind of filmmaking. It’s just that there are so many funnier and more memorable B-movies out there. This is just forgettable trash.
[“Verdict” positives=”Serviceable Special FX.” negatives=”Boring Characters.
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