Director – Benni Diez, Screenplay – Adam Aresty, Producers – Christian Becker & Benjamin Munz, Photography – Stephan Burchardt, Music – Antonio Gambale & David Menke, Visual Effects Supervisor – Sebastian Nozon, Makeup Effects/Creatures – Design of Illusion (Supervisor – Martin Schäper), Production Design – Jörg Möhring. Production Company – Rat Pack Filmproduktion GmbH/XYZ Films/Berghauswobke Filmproduktiom GmbH.
Matt O’Leary (Paul), Jessica Cook (Julia), Lance Henriksen (Mayor Caruthers), Clifton Collins Jr. (Sydney Perch), Eva Slatner (Mrs Perch), Daniele Rizzo (Larry), Cecilia Pillado (Flora), Florentine Lahme (Gwen), Tony De Maeyer (Doctor)
Paul works as waiter for Julia who runs a catering company. The two go to set up for a function at the Perch estate. As the party gets underway, it is invaded by hordes of large wasps. The wasps burrow inside the bodies of the guests to emerge as creatures several metres long. Paul, Julia and several others take refuge inside the house, barricading themselves in from the fierce attack by the wasps, which have been grown to giant size by the mixing of growth hormones with insecticide.
Stung was the directorial debut for German director and visual effects artists Benni Diez who had previously made three short films. Apart from directing one of the segments of Galaxy of Horrors (2017), Diez has subsequently returned to visual effects.
There has been a long line of giant bug films ever since the 1950s. This was the heyday that produced the likes of Them! (1954), Tarantula (1955), Beginning of the End (1957), The Black Scorpion (1957), The Deadly Mantis (1957) and Earth vs the Spider (1958) to belated stragglers like The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) and Empire of the Ants (1977). The giant bug made an irretrievable slide down into cheesy B movie status quite some time ago and despite one or two valiant efforts in the last few years – Eight Legged Freaks (2002), Mansquito (2005), Big Ass Spider! (2013), Spiders (2013), Lavalantula (2015) – has remained there with little that has been done managing to successfully dislodge it. Thus yet another giant bug film – concerning giant wasps, no less – arrives with a ho-hum enthusiasm on one’s part. (I have a more detailed listing here at Bug Films).
Everything considered, Stung pleasantly overturns one’s expectations. The film sets out to be nothing more than a standard creature feature and as such entertains most capably. Benni Diez shows a considerable aptitude with the creature effects. Stung is a film that has essentially been predicated around having some gory and/or gooey happening every few minutes. There are some very entertaining scenes with the wasps attacking, large-sized versions of the creatures tearing their way out of human bodies, human-wasp hybrids and a climactic scene with the catering van being pursued by a giant flaming wasp, even the bizarre notion of a flying cow-wasp hybrid at the very end.
With no more expectations than that, you have to admit that Benni Diez exceeds them and delivers something highly entertaining. Moreover, you also welcome a modern film in the giant bug genre that is taking itself serious and not constantly deflating its own inherent cheesiness or throwing in asides and in-jokes.
Stung even works well in terms of normally throwaway aspects like the characters. Lance Henriksen, the best-known name present, gives it the old college try and proves rather entertaining. Matt O’Leary is a name who has been bubbling under and proves to be a very likeable lead where he is more than capably balanced out by the unknown Jessica Cook. I can think of few films I have seen recently when you are actually rooting for the two main characters to acknowledge their mutual attraction and for it to work as appealingly when they eventually do.