Royal Jelly (USA, 2021)

A high school outcast finds a new route to destiny in this slow-paced horror film that takes a shocking twist in the film’s final moments.

Aster is a high school student who has a hobby of beekeeping, like her late mother. However, her hobby draws the wrath of her stepsister, who always bullies her and even has her suspended when she messes with a recent project. When Aster is suspended for a day, she finds herself doing chores. The next day, a substitute teacher arrives and stands up for Aster when her half-sister decides to cause trouble again. The teacher, Tresa, takes a liking to Aster and soon the two form a friendship.

Undeterred about Aster, her half-sister decides to conspire with her friends to destroy the one thing Aster loves the most at home. When Aster discovers her beloved bee project has been decimated, she decides she has had enough and runs away. Tresa takes Aster to an undisclosed location in the middle of nowhere. At first, she finds herself in a place she belongs. However, as the days go on, she discovers that Tresa is not exactly who she seems. Aster learns that Tresa is preparing her to become the new queen of her hive. Can Aster find a way to escape the once comfortable environment that has now become a dangerous world?

The high school outcast is a character trope in horror films who usually finds some sort of revenge against their tormentors. It has been done quite a lot in some classics and modern-day films. However, this film from writer-director Sean Riley takes the high school outcast horror trope and changes it up a bit. Instead of our outcast getting revenge, she runs away and finds something more sinister than she ever expected.

Elizabeth McCoy pulls off a wonderful performance as our protagonist Aster. A goth-sporting lover of bees, she finds herself constantly bullied by her half-sister and what’s even more the sad is that her stepmother is all for her daughter while her father feels differently. In the film’s true heartfelt moment, her father explains to Aster that her sister is jealous of her because of her intelligence despite Aster knowing her stepsister is more popular because of her looks and popularity. One would expect Aster to take revenge when her stepsister and her friends destroy the one thing that keeps her sane but it’s not the case.

Enter Tresa, the mysterious substitute teacher who becomes Aster’s closest ally, played by Sherry Lattanzi (who also served as an executive producer). It may seem at first as if Aster and Tresa may delve into a more than friendly bond, but it’s more teased. Instead, it becomes a case of Tresa taking Aster under her wing (or wings) without telling her the truth. While Aster does find a bit of romance with fellow outcast Henry, played by Lucas T. Matchett, the end result of their love is that of what happens in the life cycle of the honeybees. After all, the title indicates the excretion from the glands of the worker bees. When Aster learns the horrifying truth, it leads to an insane final fifteen minutes that goes an insane route that makes the film sort of open-ended.

Royal Jelly takes the high school outcast and put them in a world different from the typical revenge plot. An excellent performance from leads Elizabeth McCoy and Sherry Lattanzi drive the film that’s first slow-paced, then goes insane in the final fifteen minutes. Not a bad film at all.

WFG RATING: B-

A Royal Jelly Movie LLC film in association with Hrilina LLC. Director: Sean Riley. Producers: Sean Riley and Candy Riley. Writer: Sean Riley. Cinematography: Jonathan Hammond. Editing: Sean Riley.

Cast: Elizabeth McCoy, Sherry Lattanzi, Fiona McQueen, Jonas Chartock, Lucas T. Matchett, Raylen Ladner, Jesse Hartsog, Jake McCoy, Justin Davis, Hrilina Rakhs, Nicole Prunty.

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