Royal Jelly

This is what grooming looks like when taken to the next level.  Forget petty crimes, Horror Hounds, Aster - who hangs out with the bees (not the birds) - is about to find herself in the thick of it thanks to a diseased hive and her mysterious mentor’s conniving plan to make her the next queen!

"remains unsettling enough to keep the viewers tuned in to its bee-centric shenanigans"

Talk about body horror!  While kitschy enough to be entertaining, Royal Jelly suffers a bit in tonality as it strays all over the place - especially in the latter third of the film - and then grinds to a bloody halt as even we can't find a safe way out of this beehive.  From flirtations with basic body horror elements to elements of southern gothic horror and beyond, there’s a lot of cool ideas kicking about here that just don’t make the translation from page to screen as smoothly as they can.  

Thankfully, much of Royal Jelly remains unsettling enough to keep the viewers tuned in to its bee-centric shenanigans.

Written and directed by Sam Riley, Royal Jelly should, in fact, please fans of B-movie mania. Just don’t go expecting The Swarm.  This is a movie about keyed-up teenage transformations.  It’s more social in spirit than it is shocking and that works to create a premise that is somewhat original and definitely off its rocker as its stabs for comedy rather than horror. while keeping everything straight as can be.

Royal Jelly is low in budget, strange enough, and downright disturbing as one reclusive high school student finds herself in the clutches of a monstrous plan courtesy of the one person she thought she could trust.  You see, Aster (Elizabeth McCoy) has a lot to be unhappy about.  Her father has remarried and her preppy new stepsister (Raylen Ladner) is all about the bullies in school.  This leaves Aster with nothing but the goth scene she’s currently wrapped up in and her bees.  

The bees! The bees!  Oh, the bees!  It is in this scene where the movie absolutely comes alive.   There is, after all, a lot for us to learn about bees.  This is her life and it will soon, well, you'll see.  It's a pretty normal existence for this quiet teenager.Royal Jelly

That is until a substitute teacher Tresa (Sherry Lattanzi) takes an interest in Aster.  Suddenly, the two are palling around town, causing a ruckus, and going out to eat together.  It would be worrisome to most, but Aster enjoys her company.  While they get into minor scrapes and scuffles, she considers Tresa to be the most important adult around her.  Definitely, the most influential.  So, when Tresa’s true intentions are revealed, it comes as a bit of a shock to Aster.

She’s being used for her body!

What follows is a spirited take on The Fly as Aster finds herself, yes, standing up for herself but also being groomed for the life of a Queen . . . in a beehive eating, you guessed it, royal jelly.  Can Aster do it or will she decide that her life back home was better?  What will it take it for her to survive this nightmarish apiary?  And do bees have fangs?!  Find out when Royal Jelly gets spilled!

Uncork’d Entertainment will release Royal Jelly on September 14, 2021.

3/5 stars

Film Details

Royal Jelly

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
93 mins
: Sean Riley
Sean Riley
Jonas Chartock; Fiona McQuinn; Elizabeth McCoy
: Horror
Once upon a hive...
Memorable Movie Quote:
Uncork'd Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 14, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: When Aster, a reclusive high school bee enthusiast, is taken under the wing of a mysterious mentor named Tresa, everything Aster loves is shattered. Snatched away to Tresa’s remote, nightmarish apiary, Aster finds herself captive to Tresa’s grotesque plan--being groomed as a diseased hive’s next queen. Aster must find the strength within to exterminate Tresa and her godforsaken brood to survive.


Royal Jelly