The landscape of American horror is in a weird state these days. The most inflated of the popular genres consistently since its inception, its marketplace is now flooded by straight to stream chancers hoping for a quick buck off the basis of a its AI generated poster. Studio projects are faring the same, who needs another NUN movie? Is one more Conjuring sequel really necessary? Recently movies like Night Swim have proved the Marvelisation of cinema knows no bounds. It has shown studios don’t care about making anything truly frightening or entertaining if the whole family can buy a ticket to a screening.

The place where innovation and passion truly exist these days is with the small fry studios. NEON, A24 and a couple of others are either supplying the industry with new voices or supporting their talents. Oz Perkins, Robert Eggers, Ari Aster, Brandon Cronenberg and Irelands own Lee Cronin are showing what can be done at this level. This brings us to Sting, the new film by Aussie native Kiah Roache- Turner. Sting centres around Charlotte (Alyla Browne, fresh from the set of Furiosa) a young girl living in a New York apartment block with her family including struggling stepdad Ethan (Ryan Corr). And alien spider lands in the block during a bad snow season, Charlotte befriends the spider and progressively chaos ensues.

Sting a real call back to the creature features of the 70s and 80s. There’s multiple homages and references to movies like Alien, Gremlins, Predator among others. In the current landscape of unending call backs and the retconning of your childhood favourites (looking at you Ghostbusters) you’d think this would come off as cheap, but Sting manages to hold its own and prove itself long before these references hit. The sudden suspense of seeing the spider only for it to disappear a split second later is an arachnophobes worst nightmare. Points to the editing for that one, the sound mix too is by far the best I’ve heard for a horror film this year.

The mix of practical and FX and CG is seamless creating some well-produced scares. The plot deals with an interesting source of tension with belonging to a family being its core metaphor. Ryan Corr really sells his performance as a guy juggling too much for the sake of a family that’s rejecting him. I think the fault comes when the film sidelines this metaphor for the monster movie scares in the third act, there’s an abrupt switch before the final showdown that I wish led to something a bit more cathartic than what we get. I think the pacing between beats could also do with some work, there’s not a lot of breathing room between scares which detracts from the experience.

These have been consistent issues I’ve had with Roache-Turners previous turnout, the zombie/ Mad Max-esque hybrid Wyrmwood. It’s less noticeable in that film compared to Sting as it’s not as high octane. Sting overall is a highlight for me. Super enjoyable solid horror the likes we rarely see today in the multiplexes.

Rating 3/5

  • Directed and Written by: Kiah Roache-Turner
  • Starring: Alyla Browne and Ryan Corr
  • Runtime: 1hr 32min
  • Rated: R (US)
  • Released: April 24th, 2024 (US) | May 31st, 2024 (UK & IE)

Review by Marcus Rochford.

Sting Trailer