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Review

'Stung,' about mutant wasps, is a throwback to 1980s B movies

Mutant wasps wreak havoc at a country-estate garden party in "Stung," a homage to those 1980s creature features that reveled in grotesque details.

Novice filmmaker Benni Diez cut his teeth working in special effects, and to that end the film certainly hearkens back to 1980s B movies. But "Stung" lacks the allegorical quality that would distinguish it from that era's Cronenbergian horror knockoffs, and the director's background doesn't play to the strengths of Adam Aresty's screenplay.

Aresty appears to have written the film mostly with the "Alien" oeuvre in mind, with emphasis on wasps' parasitic and behavioral qualities. But those "Alien" references get lost, and the script's Hitchcock influences (think "Psycho" and maybe "The Birds") come off as more accidental than deliberate.

Instead of maximizing the full potential of all this movie-geek fodder, "Stung" focuses on the budding romance between the party's caterers, Julia (Jessica Cook) and Paul (Matt O'Leary). Unfortunately, the human relationships depicted here are less credible than the solid special effects.

And might some entomological research have infused the script with some plausible survival strategies for all these sitting ducks?

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"Stung."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.

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