Combustible Celluloid Review - Sting (2024), Kiah Roache-Turner, Kiah Roache-Turner, Ryan Corr, Alyla Browne, Penelope Mitchell, Robyn Nevin, Noni Hazelhurst, Silvia Colloca, Danny Kim, Jermaine Fowler
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ryan Corr, Alyla Browne, Penelope Mitchell, Robyn Nevin, Noni Hazelhurst, Silvia Colloca, Danny Kim, Jermaine Fowler
Written by: Kiah Roache-Turner
Directed by: Kiah Roache-Turner
MPAA Rating: R for violent content, bloody images and language
Running Time: 91
Date: 04/12/2024

Sting (2024)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Spider Fight

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kiah Roache-Turner's giant-monster-from-space movie Sting has it all: slick filmmaking, clever editing, colorful characters, a fine blend of scary and funny, and, best of all, a great monster sure to haunt the nightmares.

Twelve-year-old Charlotte (Alyla Browne) lives with her mother, Heather (Penelope Mitchell), her stepfather, Ethan (Ryan Corr), and their young baby, Liam. Ethan is a struggling comic book artist attempting to finish a book he has made with Charlotte, but he's stuck spending most of his hours as the building super, repairing things in their New York apartment building.

Charlotte, meanwhile discovers a mysterious spider in a dollhouse and decides to keep it as a pet, naming it "Sting." She feeds it cockroaches and discovers that it hates mothballs. She takes it to a biology student, Erik (Danny Kim), who lives in the building. Erik determines that the spider is venomous, but, before anyone can act, Sting gets loose and begins a fearsome killing spree. When her mother and Ethan are captured, it's up to Charlotte to save the day.

Sting takes place almost entirely inside the moody New York apartment building, with its hissing boiler in the basement, dingy air ducts, and dark apartments; it's the perfect place for a monster that can walk on ceilings and skitter between walls.

The family dynamic is set for us: Charlotte looks up to Ethan, and they have bonded over their comics, but Heather has been hurt, badly, by her former husband and Ethan needs to work extra hard to maintain her trust. The movie also establishes a kind of family community with the neighbors; they all know each other and are familiar enough to drop by each other's places. When these folks begin to be attacked by the spider, it matters, and we care about what happens.

Writer/director Kiah Roache-Turner also has a stockpile of clever sight gags (a spider-plant hanging from the ceiling briefly looks like the monster) and perfectly-timed edits that give the movie a touch of sly humor and a spiffy pace. (Exterminator Frank, played by Jermaine Fowler, is particularly funny.) The camerawork is fluid and sleek, overcoming any low-budget origins, and even the jump-scares are smart.

The biggest quibble in Sting is the character of Helga (Noni Hazlehurst); her dementia is used as a source of humor (she can't remember calling the exterminator and thinks the spider is a big dog), which feels like a questionable choice. But otherwise, this is a superior creature feature, sure to please most horror hounds.

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