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Stung (Review)

A comedy-horror with a gore-filled sting in its tail

by Nav Qateel

Deadly giant killer wasps invade a garden party and start killing off the guests. Once stung, the victims become host to even larger mutant wasps. Stuck in the basement and down to just four survivors with no way of communicating with the outside world, they must try to formulate a plan to escape to safety.

Benni Diez demonstrates a surprisingly deft hand in this, his debut stint behind the camera, resulting in a polished and well put together Alien-inspired yarn. Diez and first-time scriptwriter Adam Aresty, throw out the rulebook when it comes to things like gestating time when people are stung by the giant wasps, allowing for instantaneous bloodsoaked action. No sooner are the victims stung by the freakishly overgrown wasps, when suddenly we're witness to 7-foot insectamonsters bursting out of mouths and other orifices, ready to continue slaughtering the hapless humans. Of course, Diez and Aresty don't mind breaking their own gestation time rule when it's convenient, like with one of the apparent survivors. But let's not enter spoiler territory.

Stung
Directed by Benni Diez
Cast Jessica Cook, Matt O'Leary, Clifton Collins Jr., Lance Henriksen
Release Date 3 July 2015
Nav's Grade: B

We open on caterers Julia (Jessica Cook) and Paul (Matt O'Leary), as they drive their boxy French truck to an old mansion. Julia recently lost her father, leaving her in charge of the small catering business, with Paul her only employee. It's clear from the getgo that Paul has a crush on Julia, causing him to try too hard only to make a fool of himself. However, Julia is more interested in making a success of the business, and this latest gig will allow her to prove herself. As Julia and Paul begin setting things up, Paul starts to notice these oversized wasps buzzing around, but he's too busy to do more than warn Julia to keep an eye out in case she gets stung.

The evening gets off to a decent start, with Mayor Caruthers (Lance Henriksen) in attendance, and everyone enjoying the sedate shindig. But soon screaming brings the proceeding to a halt, then the wasps begin to swarm, stinging most of the guests. And the stung guests quickly become host to giant mutant wasps.

The action moves from the garden to the basement, where survivors Julia, Paul, Carruthers and the hostesses oddball son Sydney (played to perfection by Clifton Collins Jr.), barricade themselves in. But rather than the story taking the pace down a notch, the relentless action gains more traction, and never lets up until the final scene.

With a rather modest budget of $2.5 million, Benni Diez and his team work wonders by spending the money wisely, showing just how much can be achieved if you put your mind to it. The CGI may not be the best we've seen, but it was utilized in such a way that it was never really an issue. The acting, production, photography and makeup made up for any minor niggles I may have had. Stung is one of those movies that demands to be seen at least twice, because there was a lot of good work to admire thanks to the set designers, especially during the final act when the wasps take over the mansion.

Benni Diez is a filmmaker to watch out for, and writer Adam Aresty, and I for one will be watching their careers with great interest.

Stung is a must-see for horror or creature feature fans.

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