Sting review: "Alien’s influence resonates in this playful creature feature"

Ryan Corr as Ethan in Sting
(Image: © Studiocanal)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Eight-legged eeks are unleashed in a playful rites-of-passage creature feature with flashes of bite and style.

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Following Adam Sandler’s midlife-crisis meeting with a comforting off-world spider in Spaceman, here’s the discomforting youth variant. Like E.T. gone wrong, director Kiah Roache-Turner’s underdeveloped but briskly suspenseful, suggestive arachno-shocker sees a kid with family issues find solace in alien company. Only this spidery E.T. will gobble you up before it phones home…

A clever opening sees a chunk of meteorite crash through the window of a New York apartment block, land in a doll’s house and crack open to release spidey. Prone to scuttling through air ducts, pre-teen Charlotte (a likable Alyla Browne) finds it, feeds it and names it Sting, after Bilbo’s dagger. But this critter grows fast – and soon uses the air ducts itself to hunt (human) food.

Alien’s influence resonates, wittily so when the shadowy environs tease hidden spiders – a lampshade and electric cables offer nifty fake-outs. A Ripley/xenomorph-ish congruity is also implied between girl/spider, though as the impressively WETA-spawned Sting’s victims mount, Charlotte realizes this home ain’t big enough for the both of them.

Sam Raimi echoes also haunt Roache-Turner’s dark wit and fluent camerawork, which makes immersive use of the contained settings. Often, though, Sting can seem limited rather than lean: the spider’s growth spurts, gooey kills and voice-mimic skills could have been more inventively nurtured, especially during the underplayed climax. Yet there’s another sting in the tale. As Charlotte channels Ash/Ripley for the close, facing down all that adolescence throws at her, her coming-of-age arc takes up at least some of the slack. 

Sting is released in UK cinemas on May 31 and is in US theaters now. 

For more scares, here's our guide to all the upcoming horror movies on the way in 2024 and beyond.

Freelance writer

Kevin Harley is a freelance journalist with bylines at Total Film, Radio Times, The List, and others, specializing in film and music coverage. He can most commonly be found writing movie reviews and previews at GamesRadar+.