One of the most important tests a film must pass is also among the hardest to quantify: Does it actually believe in what it’s doing? In the case of Stung, a low-rent creature feature pitting high-society WASPs against a swarm of literal wasps, the answer is yes. This is important, given its excess of gore and dearth of what might be called substance.
Benni Diez borrows liberally from the usual suspects in his debut feature, absorbing a love of gruesome effects and memorable departures while jettisoning such needless extravagances as three-dimensional characters we’d actually like to see survive this life-or-death ordeal. The killer insects in question descend upon a swanky garden party one fateful evening, stinging their victims and immediately turning the poor bastards into cocoons for their final form: substantially larger wasps that burst out of their hosts moments later, Alien-style, in an explosion of ghoulish brutality.
Lance Henriksen, no stranger to this sort of thing, features as a higher-up trying (and, it should go without saying, failing) to keep the situation from escalating. Also classing things up is Clifton Collins Jr., whose performance as a thoughtful murderer in Capote would have made him a star in any society not as overrun with savages and philistines as our own. Though quite silly, none of this feels self-reflexive or -satisfied. It delights in its own stupidity the way a dog rolls in dirt, but is nearly as difficult to get mad at after it muddies up the rug.
Directed by Benni Diez
Opens July 3, IFC Center