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Review: Troy Escamilla’s Mrs. Claus

I’m one of those people who start holidays early. Halloween starts in mid-September and Christmas starts in mid-November, so I feel right at home reviewing a new horror flick that recently hit DVD and VOD via Wild Eye Releasing. Mrs. Claus, formerly titled Stirring, is the latest feature from emerging independent film-maker Troy Escamilla. His previous project, Party Night, is also currently available on home media and his next project, Teacher Shortage, is becoming a big seller on Kickstarter. With so much hype around him and his movies, I was excited to watch and review Mrs. Claus. I mean, who doesn’t love Christmas horror movies? It’s a subgenre that’s rising up the ranks just as fast as Escamilla. Mrs. Claus follows a sorority house of mean girls who push their latest pledge too far; resulting in a brutal murder/suicide. One year later, the most recent crop of Greek classmates converge on the sorority house for a Christmas party with their best friends. Little do they know, a bloodthirsty killer disguised as a rabid Mrs. Claus is stalking and butchering them one by one. A traditional slasher set in modern times, Mrs. Claus stars Mel Heflin, Hailey J. Strader, Billy Brannigan, Ryan Poole, Heather Bounds, Jantel Fontenot, Drew Shot Well and Kaylee Williams (Model Hunger), as well as horror icons Brinke Stevens (Slumber Party Massacre) and Helene Udy (My Bloody Valentine).

Shot under Fright Meter Films, no one seems happy in the sorority that looks like it spells ASS in Greek letters. Having been friends with a few sorority girls while in college, I know that the seniors can be relentless…but this was something else. No wonder the poor girl goes crazy and hangs herself on the front lawn. This, of course, would make normal people move out and move away; wanting nothing to do with the property and its demented past. But, this is a horror film, guys, so needless to say everyone decides to stick around and, worse, gather at the homestead on the one year anniversary of the mishap. Perfect. What could go wrong? Mrs. Claus is great because it’s a traditional slasher, even going as far as including the infuriating pair off massacres, and it also feels like it takes place during the Christmas season. Maybe in California. This also means, though, that the killer is obvious from about the fifteen minute mark and this voids all sense of real suspense. Luckily, Escamilla beefs up the gore and body count with the death scenes I mentioned above. They are far and away the best thing about Mrs. Claus, and props to Heather Benson for her role in creating the special effects.

One such death scene that takes place at the end is kind of laughable because it goes on for too long. But the actress pushed through blood splattering on her face for several minutes. This is a good lead in to the acting. I have to say, Mrs. Claus was wonderfully cast and everyone did an above average job considering they were in a slasher film. No cringe worthy takes in the bunch. I have a few notes on the headliners, though. First, Brinke Stevens is one of the ultimate scream queens, but in the last year I was unimpressed with her work. Luckily, she’s more emotive and appears to be having fun in Mrs. Claus, so this could be my favorite performance from her in 2017 and 2018. In regards to Helene Udy, I actually haven’t seen her since My Bloody Valentine, although she’s been doing a lot within this genre for the past few years. I’m happy to see that she’s still got “it” after all this time. Finally, Kaylee Williams is a mainstay in the independent horror scene, and I have to say this is one of my favorite performances from her in recent years, too. What would have really beefed up everyone’s performances is better soundtrack/scoring. I didn’t hear too many Christmas tunes, and the scores didn’t fit or were too amateur for a film like this. For me, this was a major deterrent.

Less pledging, more pot and more blood. Mrs. Claus is written, directed and produced by Troy Escamilla. It features cinematography and editing from producer Derek Huey. It’s currently available on DVD and most VOD markets from Wild Eye Releasing. Is it predictable? Yes. Is it rough around the edges? Yes. But, I still had fun during my viewing and while writing this review I found that I could appreciate the work more thanks to a second look. A slasher film that takes place during Christmas, well, that’s a present we all want underneath the tree. In this movie’s case, I think it’s going to appeal to true believers in independent film and talent. Horror fans who can really appreciate the effort put into making a movie, and not write it off as something worthless because it wasn’t made for a million bucks. With so many other Christmas horror films coming out in the next few weeks, you should consider purchasing or streaming Mrs. Claus because it’s an awesome, refurbished piece of cinema with a lot of heart and a lot of blood. High body count for the win, folks. It really does make a difference, and even helped me to overlook the 0% effort put into creating the killer. Final Score: 6 out of 10.

Written by MGDSQUAN

(Senior Editor) MGDSQUAN