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‘Sting’ review: Great horror marred by character

A blast from the past – and space.

Sting sounds a lot like the sci-fi horror movies that packed drive-ins across America during the 1950s. A strange object from space crashes through a window in a rundown apartment. Twelve year old Charlotte (Alyla Browne, young Furiosa in the upcoming Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga) stumbles across the debris and finds a tiny spider within. She takes it and begins to care for it as her pet. As the creature grows larger and hungrier, birds, cats, and even people are found dead.

It sounds straight and to the point, and at its base level it is, but it is the detours along the way that make for an uneven viewing experience. Sting has the expected familial issues; Charlotte’s stepdad Ethan (Ryan Corr, House of the Dragon) is having difficulty connecting with her, for example. But it is also lacking in forming connections between them, including between the young girl and her arachnid.

This is not from a lack of trying, however. Sting tries to show what everyone means to each other. It is a noble attempt that ends up doing more harm than good. As the film moves around the apartment, it feels like there is a lack of focus. The titular spider takes a backseat to the drama surrounding the residents of the apartment. But since each lacks any sort of depth, it makes the entire movie feel like it is just spinning its wheels.

Ethan ends up being impacted the most. For the first two-thirds, he is just a guy who is trying to get his life together. He does not leave any impression, for better or worse. At the start of the final act, he is given a big scene that reveals more about him. Unfortunately, none of it is good. He comes off as selfish and petty. This all leads to an ending that feels underserved.

Sting is at its best when it focuses on its scarier aspects. There are some really good jump scares and excellent use of shadows. It all helps create a great sense of tension. During the finale twenty minutes, there is a sense that anybody can die at any time. It makes for a harrowing watch in all the best ways.

As long as it delivers on its scares, character development can play second fiddle in this type of film. Sting has some excellent effects, including some downright brutal kills. The movie is filled with terrifying moments and the spider is absolutely creepy. This will appeal to the adrenaline driven visceral part of your brain and helps the movie get past its flaws.

Sting opens in theaters April 12

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