"Stung" is the worst kind of neo-exploitation film: the kind that encourages you to root for a good guy who is essentially a man-child until crisis mode kicks in, and he abruptly becomes Badass Grownupman. The crisis in question is a sudden onslaught of seven-foot-tall wasps, an occasion that heroic slacker Paul (Matt O'Leary) rises to with inexplicable alacrity. Paul is as bland as any of the film's other protagonists, but what's really nettlesome about Paul's milquetoast nature is that the film keeps insisting that he deserves success. There's a weird rom-com for dudebros sub-plot running throughout "Stung" and it makes the film's underlying message appear surprisingly insidious: to get the girl, you have to magically transform into a survivalist wet dream, and fight a horde of Shaquille O'Neil-sized mutant insects. Get in line, fellas, this movie's got life lessons to impart!
Meet Paul, the audience surrogate for the duration of "Stung." Paul is a stereotypical "nice guy" as we find out in the film's opening scene when he struggles to flirt with Julia (Jessica Cook), his boss and the owner of a small catering company. Julia, a stressed-out working girl who worries about the future of her company, doesn't like Paul's loud music, doesn't leap for joy when Paul asks if she likes pot, and doesn't just, like, chill out when she's alone with Paul. Also, she spills coffee on her hoodie, and naturally has nothing but a sports bra on underneath.
Julia is so uptight that she questions Paul's attire before he puts on his work uniform and starts setting up the tables at a private party for old women. But once giant wasps attack, Paul suddenly becomes useful, nay, manly. In other words: Julia starts to see a side of Paul that's not typified by puppy-dog pouting, and boyish, uh, juggling (yes, in one scene, Paul actually juggles while Julia looks on with mute disdain).
Which wouldn't be such a bad thing if circumstances didn't keep nudging Julia into Paul's arms. He impresses her by volunteering to leave the safety of the women's wine cellar to search for the keys to her van. And before that, both a Latina maid, and a surly (but essentially likable) small-town mayor (Lance Henriksen, oy vey) commend Paul for being a man who has the hots for Julia. The latter endorsement is especially dispiriting: after downing a bottle of vintage red wine, Henriksen's character growls, "That young man has balls of steel. To be a man you have to be a man."