Sting (2024) Movie Review - Confused Arachno-Horror with no Bite

Horror, Adventure, Drama, Sci-fi | 92 Min
Cover from Aussie horror movie Sting (2024)
  • Director: Kiah Roache-Turner
  • Actors: Ryan Corr, Alyla Browne, Penelope Mitchell, Robyn Nevin, Noni Hazelhurst, Silvia Colloca, Danny Kim, Jermaine Fowler
  • Writers: Kiah Roache-Turner
  • Producers: Jamie Hilton, Michael Pontin, Chris Brown
  • Country: Australia, United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Violence, Language, Gore
  • Horror, Adventure, Drama, Sci-fi | 92 Min

After raising an unnervingly talented spider in secret 12-year-old Charlotte must face the facts about her pet-and fight for her family's survival-when the once-charming creature rapidly transforms into a giant flesh-eating monster.

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to our review of Aussie horror movie Sting from 2024. We are going to be spending a fair bit of time catching up on some recent Hollywood horror that we have missed. One of those movies is the one we are looking at today, Sting. 

Sting follows the story of a young girl called Charlotte (Alyla Browne) who lives in a New York apartment with her mother, brother and step father. While raiding her great Aunt’s dollhouse, she finds a small spider that she decides to keep as a pet. Naming the arachnid Sting, she discovers that the creature can replicate her calls and has a ravenous appetite.

Growing ever larger, it soon becomes clear that cockroaches are not going to be enough to satiate the enormous creature. Leading Charlotte to wonder just what she has unleashed on her family.

Sting plays out as part creepy crawly horror, part familial drama movie and part comedy. Tons of people hate spiders, right? Arachnophobia is super common. How could this movie fail? Well, let’s take a look.

A Little Context

Sitting down to watch a movie just before Christmas. My fiancée and I decided to throw on Violent Night. Assuming it was a horror but quickly realising it was far more of an action movie. We found ourselves to be having a pretty good time but I just couldn’t shake one annoying feeling. “This movie doesn’t know what the hell it wants to be”. It is trapped somewhere between a Gremlins like, family friendly, Christmas romp and a bloody, ultra violent, action movie.

A screenshot from Aussie horror movie Sting (2024)

Themes of familial togetherness, childhood innocence, belief in Santa and the magic of Christmas. Sat ill at ease with scenes of people being brutally beaten, shot and horrifically maimed. Adults wouldn’t want to see all the child friendly “parents getting back together and belief in Santa” crap and kids should definitely not be forced to sit through some of the, frankly, very graphic violence. It is a completely confused movie and it suffers for it. But it doesn’t suffer for it nearly as badly as Sting does.  

A Completely Confused Horror

Sting is an even more egregious example of a horror movie not knowing what it wants to be. For a start, our protagonist here is a 12 year old girl. She’s a little rebellious but all she wants from life is to be noticed by her step dad. She travels through the apartment block’s air ducts and uses gadgets like a modern day Kevin McCallister. She cries when her parents don’t understand her and she misses her real dad.

A screenshot from Aussie horror movie Sting (2024)

The movie kicks off with recaps of Charlotte’s adventures through the home’s cooling system and her feeding of her new pet “spider from space” Sting. Before switching to some fairly deep familial drama as perennial loser step dad Ethan fails at everything he tries and makes life awkward for those around him. The whole thing wraps up with some absolute mega violence featuring skinned animals, horrible killings, tons of swearing and a lot of terribly executed comedy. It’s a bit whiplash inducing to say the least.

Who is This Made For?

This is one of the most confused horror movies I have ever seen. On one hand it is a mild kid’s horror movie like Small Soldiers or Eight Legged Freaks. With a heroic kid donning a water pistol to fight back against the baddies. On the other hand it is a violent and adult horror featuring barbaric acts of brutality and body horror that no kid should ever really watch. Throw in some Police Academy style comedy and you are somewhere close to what Sting is all about. It is a mess and the movie suffers massively for it. It’s like Guillermo Del Toro does Batteries Not Included.

Very few adults are going to relate to, or enjoy, the character of Charlotte. Most are going to find her bratty, needy and a bit obnoxious. Step dad Ethan is useless and mopey and everyone else in the film is a basic horror caricature or, worse still, an offensive stereotype. Barely any of the characters are likable and the plot is legitimately infantile. I’d say it might be for mid-teen kids but even they will probably find a lot of the drama elements cringe. Don’t even get me started on the movie’s bile inducing ending.

A screenshot from Aussie horror movie Sting (2024)

The violence is not gory enough for proper horror fans but far too gory for kids who may enjoy the childhood whimsy of Charlotte’s adventures. And the comedy will likely appeal to nobody because it is just so awful. When you throw in the cancer diagnosis levels of serious family drama that goes to some pretty dark places. It is hard not to come out of this movie feeling a little dazed and confused. It is consistently inconsistent and has no clue what it wants to be or who it wants to appeal to.

On The Plus Side

There are a few positives, however. The movie is just so simple that it is likely to appeal to non-horror fans who just want some basic scares. You can’t go too far wrong with a creepy spider jumping out from nowhere and webbing up unsuspecting victims. Some absolute sadists may enjoy the comedy and their may be a few adults out there who never got over their own daddy issues that may enjoy Charlotte’s specific complexities. 

Some of the creature design is pretty decent. Sting is, clearly, based on a black widow spider and looks fantastic. Some of the scenes focusing on the creepy design are sure to send shivers up the spines of people who hate spiders. Guaranteeing that they are freaking out at every little tickle on their arms for the next week or two. The movie feels very high budget and there is that distinctive Hollywood sheen coating on every surface. Some of the shots were quite creative, here and there, as well and the CGI used isn’t too distracting. 

A screenshot from Aussie horror movie Sting (2024)

Alyla Browne has a promising career ahead of her. She is a very confident young actor and works with facial expressions a lot better than most actors her age. I also really enjoyed Jermaine Fowler as exterminator Frank. Relic’s Robyn Nevin is clearly having a great time chewing the scenery as Helga which I liked and most of the cast does just fine.

Should You Watch Sting?

If you aren’t too fussed by horror movies that don’t know who their target audience is, you should watch Sting. It can be fun, the creature design is pretty neat, and it is simple enough to just throw on and enjoy. As a horror movie, however, it is completely confused. The focus on childhood adventure, familial drama and heart warming “triumph over adversity” style narrative are completely at odds with the language, violence and gore.

This movie wants to be a kid’s horror but forgets to forgo the violence, language and bloodshed. The almost infantile plot also makes the movie wildly predictable with characters having plot armour as they would in a kid’s film. Older horror fans will probably feel at odds with the childlike narrative but the movie will likely be too inappropriate for the age of fan that might appreciate the more kid focused drama. The makers of Sting threw every piece of shit at the wall hoping the sticky mess would create a cohesive horror but the result actually turned out to be a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be.

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