Its 11:11 am
After I posted our latest review,”Triple Threat” and was thinking what to watch next,I decided to go with another favorite of ours that we haven’t seen in a while and that is a film from IFC Midnight.
While all the major studios have been taking a beating during the pandemic,indie films have taken to the forefront of what has been released and as I type this,the biggest film this summer has been a IFC Midnight filmed called “The Wretched”. It has been the number one film at the box office and is a great showcase to new film lovers who haven’t watched or heard of IFC Films. This of course makes the cheetah and I very happy because we think for the most part that IFC/IFC Midnight releases the most outstanding films. If fact my buddy Catfish has gone from teasing me for being such an fanatic to becoming a huge IFC buff himself,I’m getting texts and calls from Catfish who tells me what he has just picked up.
With that said,it seemed like a great time to watch a very cool creature feature that IFC Midnight released called “Stung”.
Paul (Matt O’Leary) and Julia (Jessica Cook) are caterers who have been hired to host a huge social event. Julia,who has taken over the family business after her dad has died,is nervous because its a huge client and that she doesn’t truly trust Paul not to mess things up.
They drive up to a huge mansion in the middle of nowhere and start getting ready for the party. Being that is are only the two of them,Paul is left to do the setting up outside while Julia fixes the food with Flora who has known Julia for years.
Paul makes a new friend in Larry is providing the entertainment for the party. Larry is a pretty positive guy and enjoys having a good vibe which helps Paul who is feeling a little down.
We then meet the hostess,Mrs. Perch and her son Sydney (Clifton Collins,Jr.) and learn the party is being held in the memory of Mr. Perch who died years ago. Sydney,who was born with a hunchback,is shy and reclusive and has a hard time connecting with people socially. He is also pretty much at his mother’s beck and call which doesn’t help him much either.
So the party is underway and Paul is tending bar,he is slightly rattled as he has seen three much bigger then usual wasps around the house. He killed one and is grossed out by the mess it left. He keeps on hearing buzzing sounds and tells Julia about them. She ignores him and goes back to serving several VIPs including the town’s leader,Mayor Caruthers (Lance Henrikson).
All of a sudden a huge buzzing is heard by everyone and as they look about,a large swarm of large wasps emerge from a hole and attack the guests. They sting their victims,lay eggs in them which in turn hatch within their human hosts and kills them most gruesomely. The various guests try and escape but are caught in the open and most of them die.
Paul,Julia,Sydney,Mrs. Perch and Mayor Caruthers make it into the house when Flora opens it and tell them to come inside. But Mrs. Perch has been stung and she soon explodes as a massive wasp emerges,the survivors shut the wasp in a room but Flora is killed and not realizing that Sydney has been stung,the last four retreat to the basement in hopes of surving the night alive. But with no way to call for help,no car keys and no weapons,the odds are really stacked against the group……
I really liked “Stung” very much….it had great acting,plenty of gore,some dark humor and some real heart. The practical effects were outstanding and director Benni Diez,making his feature film debut in the director’s chair did a fine job making writer Adam Aresty’s story impactful and fun.
The key in making “Stung” really work is the excellent acting by Clifton Collins,Jr. as Sydney and Lance Henricksen turning in one of his best performances I have seen in a LONG time. Most films,Henricksen is there for a day and the producers slap his name on the BluRay case in hopes of selling a few more units on his name,his roles are often nothing more then cameos. Not here in “Stung”,Aresty’s script makes Mayor Caruthers a man you care about,he isn’t afraid to admit his shit his pants in fear but then turn around and do a very heroic deed that you actually aren’t surprised by. Henricksen is excellent here and was a real pleasant highlight.
Clifton Collins,Jr. is one of my favorite actors and sad to say,I think this is my first review of any his roles. But he has so many GREAT films and he is one of the best actors working today. He can do huge blockbusters one day and then bounce over to do a indie creature feature like “Stung”. His Sydney Perch is not a bad guy,he just has been emotionally crippled. I think the fact that Paul,Julia and the Mayor were treating him as an equal was the main reason why he kept quiet after he was stung. Julia shows him compassion while Caruthers,while a bit gruff,reminds Sydney he is own person now.
There is a lovely nod to the 1970s version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” that was cool to see and Clifton pulls it off like a champ!!
This is the first time that I had watched O’Leary and Cook act and I thought they made for a very cute onscreen couple. They had good energy and chemistry and Cook gave Julia some real teeth as the Final Girl. I like how Diez decided to add a twist to Aresty’s story and that it really work for the better. O’Leary has a nice Daniel Radcliffe kind of acting style and it works for him,he is a interesting actor and I’m looking to see if I can find some more of his work.
There were a couple of minor issues with “Stung” and that was killing off everyone so fast,this causes a pacing issue as the movie does drag through the middle section,have a few more folks alive would have helped quicken the pace and kept the chills and suspense going a little longer. The last 5 minutes of the movie looked rushed and changed from whatever Diez had shot and its the weakest part of the film. Cobbling on a forced ending is never a good thing and doing so on a nice little chiller like “Stung” is like getting stung to a viewer.
I also didn’t care for the score which was done by two composers and their styles were too jarring and didn’t really fit into what “Stung” was doing.
While all the actors are still working…..Diez has never directed another film and Aresty has only written just one short film since “Stung”was released. This is a terrible shame because both men have plenty of skills and I think this film should have launched both Aresty and Diez to the next level.
“Stung” has a run time of 87 minutes and is rated “R” for gore and language.
Special features include two 20 minute featurettes about the making of the film.
The cheetah and I both really enjoyed “Stung” and gave it two thumbs/two paws straight up.
If you’re a IFC Midnight fan please come join the IFC Midnight group on Facebook which you can do so by clicking here.