The horror fans of today, truly blessed with an incredible number of horror subgenres, an estimated tally of 41 choices, and among them, a favor of writer and director Troy Escamilla, is that of slasher films which do often crossover to other areas. However, the subgenre that seems often overlooked or absent from the inclusion of the other 41, noted below, is ‘Holiday Horror’, simply horror occurring on that holiday theme, and most commonly of late Christmas Horror (very few lists include it). Three of the most well known Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), Black Christmas (1974) and Christmas Evil (1980), and now entering the fray Troy’s movie called Stirring, and a thanks to him for allowing me access to an early screener of the film. While the jolly season is over, the cranking out the holiday horror continues, after all, Christmas in July fast approaching, and the film festival season is in full swing, this movie is definitely on the buffet to have the fans wanting it in their stockings. Those familiar with Troy, recall his first award winning movie Party Night, and this feature from his production company Fright Meter Films currently doesn’t have a IMDb rating, but don’t let that dissuade you from catching it, and with that said, I will as the reviewer, try to review with no spoilers of the film for you potential viewers.
Stirring starts with attack of the jugular for the viewer, involving the hazing of a sorority pledge and leading to an incredibly humiliating situation, and a killing. Time jump to 10-years later with Danielle (Hailey Strader) as a woman pledging Delta Sigma Sigma sorority the same one her sister belonged to when she was murdered, yes, she’s living in the same house where the hideous event took place. The film mirrors Black Christmas a tad much, as students heading home for break and of course, a big party hosted by Danielle’s best friend Kayla (Heather Bounds) before leaving, hence the slaughter fest, because no one really keeps track everyone’s whereabouts. Horror icon Brinke Stevens (Slumber Party Massacre (1982) shares the screen briefly with some the pledges. The killer definitely enjoys the thrills of the kills, spreading the blood around nicely, and piling up quite the body count for the gore-hound fans. In addition, actors Daiane Azura and Ryan Poole who portrayal Sophie and Grant, bring a comedic quality often found in these flicks. Stirring acts truly like a lost film from the golden age of slasher films and likely to entertain the average horror fan with a little T&A and sheer enjoyment for the quality bloodshed. Simply the film references and draws inspiration from the classic clichés and stereotypes found this subgenre’s wheelhouse.
Escamilla shows clearly both a passion for the horror genre, and the history of the films with his reference to classic ones, extending that to significant details and creating the right amount of tension and entertainment for the fans. Slasher movies don’t get high acclaim nor arthouse sentiment rather it connects to the viewers and fans of the subgenre, and they enjoy the insanity. Troy extends the passion to the artwork on the poster understanding the importance of it to encourage potential audiences to check out his latest creation. While the script outlines a simple story the technical basis well-performed and delivers a clean sound for the film, and just smidge off in the lighting in a few scenes but nothing too much to distract the viewer. Aside from framing and pacing issues, the film works the killing at a steady flow, never truly perceiving a rushed or hurried feel to the overall production.
Simply stated, horror fans, if the opportunity to attention any horror conventions and/or film festivals occurs, and this flick is present then venture in and enjoy the slaughter, and perhaps some creative ways to deck your halls next season. Will you be on the naughty or nice list, as the Holiday Killer goes on a slashing and slaying spree during the yuletide season?
Baron’s Rating: 5.5/10