Some Critters Aren’t Meant To Be Kept As Pets

“After raising an unnervingly talented spider in secret, 12-year-old Charlotte must face the facts about her pet, and fight for her family’s survival—when the once-charming creature rapidly transforms into a giant, flesh-eating monster.”

Indie creature features are a dime a dozen, and usually land somewhere between ‘suspension of disbelief’ and ‘ridiculous’. That’s why we love to watch them! If a movie creator brings a laser-eyed llama to the table, we know what we’re getting ourselves into when we press play. But every once in a while, a team comes along with a new take on an old idea and delivers something brilliant. Sting (2024) is more than a creature feature; it’s the tender story of a 12-year-old girl who is struggling to accept the fact that her father abandoned her, her mother remarried, and there’s a new baby in the house. When she finds a spider and decides to keep it as a pet, she forces her whole family to prove themselves in a horror-fueled nightmare.


Sting 2024

Charlotte (Alyla Browne) lives in an old apartment building with her mother Heather (Penelope Mitchell), stepdad Ethan (Ryan Corr) and her baby brother. Heather is running ragged, caring for baby Liam and her Alzheimer-ridden mother Helga (Noni Hazlehurst) who lives in the apartment upstairs, while working full-time from home. Ethan works as the building’s superintendent, reporting to the owner Gunter (Robyn Nevin), who is Heather’s ornery aunt. Ethan is also an artist, and while Charlotte still doesn’t call him ‘dad’, it’s obvious that she idolizes him. He taught her how to draw, and they published a comic series together. It seems he’ll never add up to the memory she has of her father, though. To entertain herself, Charlotte crawls around in the building’s air duct labyrinth spying on her neighbours, which is actually a clever plot device. Through Charlotte’s hidden eyes, we learn the back story of some of the other tenants and witness Gunter’s cruelty toward Ethan. We also see Charlotte’s reactions, which goes a long way toward establishing her character. Charlotte is an angsty tween, but she is also empathetic. 

Sting begins near the end of the story, then backtracks to explain how we got to that place. Exterminator Frank (Jermaine Fowler) arrives at the building in the middle of a blizzard, apparently summoned by Helga, although she doesn’t remember calling him. The interaction between the two is hilarious and so comfortable that it’s hard to remember that these people are acting. The scene evokes memories of Ghostbusters (1984), complete with slime dribbling down the wall and music that sounds like it was inspired by Danny Elfman. Just like Ghostbusters, we’re in an old apartment building following a sarcastically-humoured exterminator as he hunts for the source of creepy happenings, knowing full well he’s about to face something worse than he ever imagined. Don’t be fooled into false submission, though; Sting is R-rated for a reason. 



The horror scenes are intense, especially for anyone suffering from arachnophobia. These are not low-budget kill scenes; they are visceral, and totally unexpected at first. The make-up and effects teams excelled at creating NSFW images that never repeat themselves. Each kill is different, each ravaged corpse worse than the one before it. Whether you are afraid of spiders or not, you’ll appreciate the way Sting kills his prey and the lengths the production team went to when creating the spider’s scenes. Nothing about this film feels “low-budget”. The writing, directing (both by Kiah Roache-Turner), acting, musical score, effects, and cinematography are all top-tier. 

It can be difficult to deliver an R-rated horror film with a 12-year-old protagonist, but Roache-Turner used his supreme storytelling skills to overcome that obstacle, and Browne really hit it out of the park. She and Corr are the true stars of the show, their struggle to bond carrying the plot to the very end, rather than Sting the Spider. As far as villains go, though, Sting is formidable. He grows every time he feeds, and his appetite cannot be stopped. In a family-friendly film, Sting would protect his keeper, but this spider kills indiscriminately. Shots filmed through his mason jar early in the film work to establish his motives, crawling along our spines with his pointed legs, letting us know that no one is going to be safe. It can be difficult to remember that this is a horror film at certain points when humour and touching moments seem to steer it toward something more like Beetlejuice, but then that damn spider does something horrible again and we’re repulsed back into R-rated territory. 



Sting is destined to become a cult classic. It’s a high-quality film with solid characters and a terrifying monster. It’s also relatable to most viewers in 2024, because so many of us have dealt with the heartbreak and healing after a family is broken/rebuilt, caring for senior parents, living in housing that always seems to need fixing, and feeling like we just don’t have enough time to do it all. Relationships take work, and misunderstandings can breed horror. Sting reminds us to step back and pay attention to the efforts others are making before taking things personally and overreacting. It’s not all seriousness, though. Although not billed as a comedy horror, there are plenty of laughs along the way, especially when Frank the Exterminator is in the scene. Humour is also used in the soundtrack, with apropos lyrics playing behind scenes in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. The comedy and horror are well-balanced and satisfying. 


Sting (2024) is releasing in US theatres on April 12. Do yourself a favour, and check this one out. 

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