Sting review – low-budget alien-spider horror offers laughs and out-of-your-skin shocks

Estimated read time 2 min read

This killer-spider-from-outer-space movie feels like a cross between Alien and TV’s Only Murders in the Building. It’s a mostly fun throwback horror comedy set in a Brooklyn apartment block where 12-year-old Charlotte (Alyla Browne) finds a spider, puts it in a jar and calls it Sting. “Awesome,” she marvels when Sting doubles in size in two hours, hungrily tapping the glass for more cockroaches to chomp on. What Charlotte doesn’t know is that her new pet is a flesh-eater recently hatched out of an asteroid that crash landed on Earth.

At the screening I attended, someone a few rows behind couldn’t hack it and walked out after a few minutes. Which is a credit to first-time feature director Kiah Roache-Turner, who pulls off a couple of moments that will make you jump out of your skin using simple shadow tricks and oh-there-it-is! shocks. But really, the film’s mood is larky, with some big laughs as Sting cuts its teeth on the building’s pets. There’s a majestic fluffy white Persian cat, and a parakeet that steals the show acting-wise with its worried face as Sting scuttles out of an air vent.

Sensibly, Roache-Turner seems to have splashed out a biggish chunk of the low budget on special effects by Weta (the studio behind the motion-capture characters in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit). Sting, black with a lethal red stripe, is never silly looking, though some of horror references feel a bit obvious and fanboy-ish. There’s a fair bit of an unnecessary conventional family drama, too, between Charlotte and her constantly stressed stepdad Ethan (Ryan Corr). He’s working as the building’s maintenance guy while trying to get a graphic novel finished. Much more fun are the scenes with Jermaine Fowler as Frank the exterminator, who tells Charlotte early on that arachnids don’t make good pets. They have two instincts, he warns: “Spiders just eat and kill.”


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