It has been a long and crazy year since the pandemic first started. Our memories are all a little dusty, but remember back in the summer of 2020 when news about the Murder Hornets hit? These big monster wasps that had invaded North America from Asia and were decimating the honeybee population? Also, grabbing small children out of their yards and flying away with them to devour their souls? (Okay, I may have embellished a little.) But we were all like, “Hey Nature? How about you ease up a bit?” And then more nightmares happened and Murder Hornets kind of faded into the background.
Well, they’re back! Kind of. Over the past few months, Michael Paul Stephenson (Best Worst Movie, The American Scream) has been working on a new documentary focusing on the invasion of the formidable Murder Hornet and everything that means for North America.
The aptly titled Attack of the Murder Hornets follows a group of agricultural professionals, beekeepers, and naturalists in Washington State who were dealing with the presence of the ginormous wasps through much of 2020.
The film is part nature doc, part Forensics Files, and part horror movie. It opens on an interview with a beekeeper who stumbled across what can only be described as a murder scene when he was tending his hives. An entire colony of bees had been brutally decimated by a local Asian Giant Hornet hive. From there, we meet with several specialists, enthusiasts, and volunteers who are working together to try to locate the nest (the first to be found in the US) and eradicate it before the insects can breed and spread. If they do, it could have catastrophic results for US agriculture, so the only option is eradication—if they can be found.
As our intrepid team works to track down the hornets’ nest, the film also examines the media frenzy that went into play when news of the Murder Hornets hit the internet, as well as theories as to how they got here and what could happen if they get out of control.
Like Stephenson’s previous work, Attack of the Murder Hornets carries its own sense of humor and a lot of heart, in addition to presenting a lot of fascinating information. Stevenson is always great at bringing out the personalities of his interview subjects, and this film is no different. We have a colorful cast of characters with distinct personalities, points of view, and at times, odd and even frustrating motivations. It’s an easy group to root for, and we do, through trials and tribulations and failed attempts, before they finally strike gold.
And all the while, the light in which we view the hornets slowly begins to change. Are they the vicious, mindless killers from a 1950s monster movie that we all assumed them to be? Or are they just insects doing their thing and trying to survive? The film returns to examine this question several times, and ultimately leaves it up to the viewer to decide.
Attack of the Murder Hornets is now available on discovery+. It’s a fascinating documentary that entertains as much as it educates.
Movie Score: 5/5