Ten years after her sister is brutally murdered by a fellow student at Christmas, Danielle (newcomer Hailey Strader) moves into the old sorority house to begin her educational journey, but as it approaches the festive season, Danielle begins to receive strange and cryptic messages hinting at danger being around the corner.
Christmas-based horror films have been around for countless years (a more recent prime example being Krampus) and most of the time they work incredibly well, however that isn’t quite the case with Mrs. Claus. Set in a sorority home by the name of Delta Sigma Sigma and populated with some of the most two dimensional, wooden and stereotypical characters known to man, it fails to deliver on any scares, tension or emotional attachment and will leave you wanting 90% of the cast to perish in the most brutal way imaginable. To a certain degree, this happens, but it’s hard to tell whether or not the filmmakers were attempting to create a parody or something more serious.
Our protagonist Danielle is portrayed strongly by newcomer Hailey Strader. For such an inexperienced actress, she certainly steals the show and really showcases that she could be one to watch in the future. Her story arc is convincing, not because of the writing, but because of the delivery and emphasis in her performance, and she successfully captures the essence of scream queens of days gone by.
The biggest positive of Mrs. Claus is the surprisingly exceptional practical effects utilised when our antagonist is picking off the shells of humans seen in the film. One of the kills uses a giant candy cane that is thrust down a character's throat to devastating effect; this, along with many of the other kills, are incredibly satisfying to witness on screen.
As far as production values go, this is a clear example of why lighting is important in horror films. Many of the scenes are filled with unnatural feeling lighting which sucks out any tension that the filmmakers may have been going for. That, coupled with stilted performances by the supporting cast, creates a dreary and dire 86 minutes.
At its core, Mrs. Claus fails to hit the mark in terms of scares and thrills mainly down to the fact that it's never certain if viewers should be taking it seriously or not. However, the terrific special effects and strong lead performance from Strader makes it a barely passable watch.
MRS. CLAUS / CERT: UNRATED / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: TROY ESCAMILLA / STARRING: HAILEY STRADER, HELENE UDY, BRINKE STEVENS, KAYLEE WILLIAMS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW