Spiders from Mars


Roger Corman would love Sting. In fact, he would have made this movie. If there’s a heaven, the late, great maestro of the B movie is looking down and smiling.

Sting is Corman to the core: it has a charmingly no-budget look, an offbeat premise, a crew of actors you know you’ve seen before, and limited mise en scene (all the action takes place in one building, between floors. It’s snowing furiously so they don’t go out). In other words, all the earmarks of a classic Roger Corman movie, like The Little Shop of Horrors, Attack of the Crab Monsters, and Not of This Earth.

Sting’s going for the effect of a B-movie classic. Add elements of the original Invaders from Mars and Die Hard—those are not Corman productions—and you get the picture. Sting’s credits even use the same font as Netflix’s Stranger Things (it’s Benguiat Bold, blood red).

After a prologue about Earth’s weather being screwed up by a mysterious meteor shower, we cut to a tenement in Brooklyn. The building’s old, and everything’s going wrong with it, including ominous bangs in the duct system. A grumpy exterminator finds unexplained carnage and is sucked into the ducts by an invisible menace.

A title card takes us back four weeks. Unbeknownst to humankind, let alone the residents of the building, the meteors have deposited Alien-style eggs that birth spider-like creatures. They emerge from their pods, adorable and appearing harmless.

One of them is captured by a girl named Charlotte (get it?), a precocious 12-year-old. Charlotte’s mother Heather has remarried to Ethan, who moves the family in and becomes the supervisor of said tenement. Charlotte and her stepfather are aspiring graphic novelists, working on the book that once published will bring a better life. Charlotte hides the spider, names it Sting, and feeds it cockroaches.

That is, until Sting grows enough to go after bigger prey, that is, human.

Sting was filmed in Australia. Kiah Roache-Turner directed from his script. His movie is clever and has a sense of humor: jump scares come from the threatening shadow of the giant spider mistaken for hanging plants and a power strip riddled with cords. It’s more technically sophisticated than a Corman movie. It has lots of POV Steadicam shots through corridors and ducts. Mr. Roache-Turner has directed other genre films, like Wyrmwood and Nekotronic.


The Australian cast is impressive: Ethan is played by Ryan Corr of Hacksaw Ridge and HBO’s House of the Dragon; Penelope Mitchell of the latest Hellboy and Star Trek: Picard is mom Heather; Alyla Browns (who plays Furiosa as a young girl in the upcoming blockbuster) is Charlotte. Silvia Colloca, Danny Kim, and Jermaine Fowler (doing a decent Chris Tucker imitation) also stand out.

For its Corman-y constraints (digital effects give way to a charmingly DIY spider in the climax), Sting takes on some deep human issues. Charlotte’s father is absent, and she’s having trouble adjusting to her new life. A woman downstairs mourns her lost family and drowns her grief in drink. Granma has Alzheimer’s. The biologist upstairs wants to cure cancer.

One aspect Roger might not use: human suffering is a punchline when sympathetic characters meet gruesome fates. Call me old-fashioned. I know we expect blood and viscera from a movie like this. But I liked Sting and can’t help thinking it would find a wider audience if it didn’t have so much gratuitous gore.


Sting. Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner. 2024. From Screen Australia and Align. On VOD, DVD, and Blu-Ray. 92 minutes.

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