Troy Escamilla has developed something of a trademark style. Beginning with Party Night, an emphasis on the gruesomely gory deaths as a sort of money shot, carries over to greater effect in this, his gleefully violent tribute to holiday horror.
Students attending a Christmas party at a sorority house with a sinister past are stalked by a bloodthirsty killer disguised as Mrs. Claus.
If you've seen films like Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night or any other holiday themed home invasion film, then you know what to expect here; though it must be said, Stirring starts off with quite a bang. Opening with the hazing of a potential sorority girl and leading to an incredibly humiliating situation, disturbing events are quickly set into play. Soon after, we're made to witness an over-the-top bloodbath stab-a-thon the likes of which would make Dario Argento's jaw drop. Think the first 15 minutes of Suspiria, add like ten times more blood, and you'll start to get the picture.
Fast forward a bit, and Danielle (Hailey Strader) - sister of the girl who went off the deep end - moves into the sorority house in an attempt to feel closer to her "spirit", so to speak. Of course, whatever plans for healing and deep introspection she had, are soon disrupted with the sounds of blood curdling screams. Turns out someone's killin' again, a lot, and it's up to her to figure the mystery out before her life is taken as well.
Stirring doesn't waste much time accelerating the pace, taking us from the slower second act of character development (which mostly amounts to getting to know our victims names) into the more tension-filled third act where everyone is seemingly bumped off just as quickly as they were introduced. It sounds anticlimactic, but I assure you, if there was any part of Stirring that truly shined, it'd have to be the (over)kills themselves. Necks are viciously garroted, faces smash and stabbed, friends are made into human shish kebab; really, just a healthy - varied - swath of violence. And Troy Escamilla knows it, and the camera will refuse to budge from that disgustingly glorious display until every last inch of the frame is painted red.
Fans of mean-spirited horror and midnight films, here's a no-brainer.