The combination of spiders and the horror genre is usually a slam dunk of assured creepiness. I have seldom encountered anybody who doesn’t get spooked by the thought or sight of those eight-legged arachnids. It’s precisely what writer/director Kiah Roache-Turner is counting on with ‘Sting,’ a film that takes place entirely within a Brooklyn apartment building held together by prayer and scotch tape. A massive snowstorm within Sting’s particular time frame confines all the residents to their respective corners. If that’s dicey enough for you, they are joined by an unexpected visitor —an alien spider that happens to crash through a window and make its way through a miniature house belonging to a girl named Charlotte (Alyla Browne) in a cool opening sequence. 

Ultimately, Sting’s focus is to get you to the mayhem, and given the 90-minute run time, it has to do that in a hurry. Thus, the film operates on two planes with many supporting characters to boast. Charlotte’s family consists of her mother, Heather (Penelope Mitchell), her six-month-old half-brother, Liam (played by Jett Berry and Kade Berry), and her stepfather, Ethan (Ryan Corr). Ethan has his hands full, given that he’s the building repairman working for a rather stingy and grumpy landlord named Gunter (Robyn Nevin). He’s also trying to forge some parental bond with Charlotte. They attempt to bridge that gap with him, illustrating a comic book named “Fang Girl” based on her writing. The film doesn’t provide much background on this collaboration, only that Charlotte is protective of some of the story details. Those threads are based on something about her biological father, who left Charlotte and her mother when she was little.

Besides the family strife, Charlotte is left to her own devices with the spider she calls “Sting.” She discovers the spider can mimic voices, and they devise a specific one to signal when feeding time is. The problem is that as the spider feels, it starts growing. Charlotte starts it off with roaches, and the size continues to change. It’s only a matter of time before Sting starts having a taste for something more human. You have a basic, straightforward setup for a conventional creature feature that should provide some scares. The issue that Sting runs into is that there’s a considerable amount of time trying to forge the family aspects of the film to get the audience to invest in trying to survive the monster. It’s not that a story is available; it just isn’t as serious as it thinks it’s being. While Ethan is taking calls from an agent wondering when the next illustrations are coming in or repairing a water heater, many things are transpiring off-screen. Aside from a well-timed practical effects kill from the spider, many scenarios happen off-screen, which lessens the tension. 

There are times when you see Sting lurking in the shadows, but sometimes the hallways and vents prove to be too dark to see it hunt its prey—as if the film wants to hide the fact that it’s mostly CGI. The potential victim list ranges from various character types, such as an exterminator named Frank (Jermaine Fowler), a creepy scientist named Erik (Danny Kim) who provides some well-timed exposition, and a lady locked in grief over her family, Maria (Silvia Colloca). Everyone besides the central family gets a quick hit to say their piece, just enough to keep Sting moving. Here is a standard creature feature that sometimes wants to be funny and, at other times, wants to scare you. Sometimes, the jokes land and the premise might show promise. Otherwise, Sting will not make you fearful of eight-legged creatures more than you already might be. 

Photo Credit: WELL GO USA