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Exclusive Clip: Attack Of The Murder Hornets Takes You Inside A Murder Hornet Nest

For anyone with entomophobia and/or trypophobia, the thought of taking a look inside a murder hornet nest sounds like the stuff of nightmares. But for those who have a unique curiosity about insects, those whose jaw drops when they realize what tiny (relative to humans, at least) creatures are capable of building and doing, and people who've kicked their true-crime documentary obsession and are in search of something fresh, getting up-close and personal with the insect otherwise known as the Asian giant hornet will be a thrill. 

Attack of the Murder Hornets, the new documentary from director Michael Paul Stephenson, is available to stream on Discovery+ now. In tandem with its release, Looper is excited to share an exclusive clip from the doc. 

The clip features footage captured in late September 2019 during a "midnight mission" to investigate a nest of murder hornets, flying insects that invaded Washington state after being located for the first time in North America in Canada. Though the first sightings were pre-COVID-19, murder hornets — which pose threats to local bee populations given that they can, well, murder huge amounts of their much-smaller counterparts in very little time — began popping up more and more as the novel coronavirus took hold. Attack of the Murder Hornets chronicles the efforts of the Washington State Department of Agriculture and private citizens to rid the area of murder hornets, which can be done in one way by blasting carbon dioxide into the air and into their nest.

Watching the exclusive clip above might send a shiver down your spine, as the footage shows the Washington State Department of Agriculture team and other citizen scientists spraying the murder hornet nest, getting stung by one, breaking apart the nest and showing pieces of it, and plucking the massive murder hornet queen from the wreckage and placing her in a clear container with her workers. It's equal parts creepy and totally cool.

The unintentional connection between a Netflix show and Attack of the Murder Hornets

As with all documentaries, the subject at the center of the story is the true inspiration, but everything else that's built around that subject — how the tale is told, who the director gets in contact with for one-on-one interviews, how real-life footage and confessional-style clips are cut together, the music used, the overall tone, etc. — can take inspiration and influence from all sorts of places. No two documentaries are alike, and no single formula is the one to which documentarians must stick. 

For Stephenson, the idea for Attack of the Murder Hornets came about after he read a New York Times article about murder hornets and couldn't believe that there was yet another danger to worry about in the terrible year that was 2020. He was captivated by the write-up and felt that the story — about why bees were being beheaded by these giant insects — needed to be told. 

"We were all on lockdown and I was having a pretty down morning, actually, and [I] read the article and it was just like, 'Oh my gosh, murder hornets now,'" Stephenson told Nerdist. "I was drawn into that piece through the characters [the article's author] talked about. Like [beekeeper] Ted McFall, and this mystery behind why his bees were decapitated."

Beyond the obvious, however, a certain sci-fi series had some unintentional influence on Attack of the Murder Hornets. Stephenson explained to Nerdist that he didn't intend to have the documentary's music and mood sound and feel like that of Netflix's Stranger Things, but that's the reality. It was only when his daughters watched the documentary that he discovered the similarities it shares with Stranger Things

"I love science fiction, I love horror, I love genre movies. My kids — I have three daughters — they love Stranger Things. And they didn't know anything about this project, really, other than I was making a movie about a murder hornet. They watched it for the first time and afterwards they said, 'Dad we thought you were making a boring science movie, [but] this is like a weird Stranger Things," the director said. "And so it was kind of like, 'Oh, that's interesting.' But my kids picked up on it."

Attack of the Murder Hornets is now playing on Discovery+.