In Stung, a fancy garden party goes terribly wrong after a local species of wasps mutate into giant predators. It’s up to Paul (Matt O’Leary, Mother’s Day, The Lone Ranger) and Julia (Jessica Cook, Awkward), two catering staffers at the high-society event , to stop the killer creatures – an effort that kickstarts a budding romance between the two. This fun thriller also stars Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim, Transcendence).
Think back to the older films that featured people getting attacked by animals and bugs. Not just normal bugs and animals. I'm talking about giant bugs, whether it be giant bees, rats, or spiders that prey on human victims. In more or less of the same vein as 'Big Ass Spider', but on a much lesser scale, director Benni Diez (visual effects for 'Melancholia') made an homage to these giant bug films with 'Stung', that features giant wasps.
With a movie like this with its very low budget and silly screenplay, you can't expect tons of quality on every level of filmmaking here. That being said, Diez knows how to use his camera effectively for some cheap thrills as well as use his visual effects skills to make a lot of the giant bugs and death scenes look fairly impressive, even if it's slathered in gooey guts and blood. There are elements of comedy throughout the film, but it never racks up enough gusto to really gain any hardy laughs.
Instead, it comes across as snarky and rude most of the time, which is unfortunate, because this could have been a hilarious romp of a film. 'Stung' takes place at a smarmy garden party in the country where Julia (Jessica Cook), a caterer is hosting this shindig with her abrasive bartender Paul (Matt O'Leary). The two don't seem to get along. The housekeeper of the estate is Flora (Cecilia Pillado), who seems to help out every chance she gets, but the smarmy son of the estate Sydney (Clifton Collins Jr. out of nowhere) would rather be anywhere else but this party. The film drags on in the first half with too much set up and backstory on these characters that don't seem to go anywhere.
It's only near the halfway point thats things start to rev up, although there are hints that an impending giant wasp infestation is about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting guests at any moment, including the mayor (Lance Henriksen). The wasps do eventually attack the guests, which is a lot of fun to watch, due to the detailed death scenes that are well shot and executed. There is even a twist here as well, which is that when one of these wasps sting you, your body almost immediately turns into a host for a human size wasp to crawl out of and start attacking others.
Soon enough, the garden party guests retreat inside the mansion, only to be locked inside with no way to call for help. Meanwhile, all the killer giant wasps are breaking through walls to get inside and kill people. There's not much more to 'Stung' other than that. Again, the script is not this movie's strong point, and it comes across more silly than suspenseful, and not in a good way. What keeps this movie entertaining is the better than average visual effects and gore. It's amazing what Diez was able to do on this small budget with all of the gory practical effects.
'Stung' won't win any news fans for the genre, but it's a decent first step for Benni Diez in the director's chair and an amusing addition into the giant killer bug genre that pays tribute to the older classics.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Stung' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray disc and is Region A Locked. The disc is housed in a hard plastic blue case with a cardboard sleeve cover. The packaging design inside the case is reversible with different artwork. No digital download or insert is included.
'Stung' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. For as low budget as this film is, the video presentation looks quite good. Detail is vivid and sharp throughout with the exception of a couple of CGI shots that look soft. That being said, the practical effects look top notch with every gory detail and gooey innard looking realistic and vivid.
Closeups show facial hair and the wasp's intimate details very well, along with makeup blemishes on the actors and fine stitching in their costumes. Colors look decent, however there were some strange color hues and saturation levels that looked odd, but that was the decision of the filmmaker and not a compression issue. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are usually natural. There is some slight video noise, but no other issues are here, leaving this video presentation with solid marks.
This release comes with a fun lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and fully immerses you in the center of a giant wasp attack. This is one of the better aspects of the Blu-ray by far. The sound effects of the wasps buzzing around and devouring the victims are impressive. Even the slightest buzzing in the distance can be heard. When the horde attacks, you are fully immersed in the center of the action, which might make you look overhead to make sure there isn't any thing flying above, looking to sting you. It's that good.
The ambient noises are well-balanced too with some great directionality. Each sound effect packs a punch and flows from the surround speakers. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. The bass has a great rumble to it as well and never crosses into rocky territory. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is wide, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
Audio Commentary - Director Benni Diez, Writer Adam Aresty, and Producer Benjamin Munz discuss making 'Stung'. Clearly these guys love the genre and making movies as they discuss all the fun aspects and sometimes difficulties of making a low budget monster movie. It's worth a listen.
Making of 'Stung' (HD, 22 Mins.) - This is a longer than normal promo reel for the movie with tons of cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes footage, and some insight on making the practical bug effects.
Production Blog (HD, 22 Mins.) - Here are several short video diaries from the making of the movie.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'Stung' certainly won't change the giant bug genre, but it's still thrilling and silly in its own low-budget way. The practical effects are top notch, and director Benni Diez is certainly an up and coming director to look out for. There are some pacing issues at the start, but things kick into high gear soon enough, with all of the gory details to boot. The mix of comedy and horror isn't perfect, but it tries, and that's a step in the right direction. The video and audio presentations are both good and the small amount of extras are worth watching. 'Stung' is definitely worth a look.