Featuring: Patrick Dempsey, Addison Rae, Milo Manheim, Jalen Brooks Thomas, Neil Verlaque, Rick Hoffman and Gina Gershon
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Director: Eli Roth
In Cinemas: Now
After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorises Plymouth, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the holiday. Picking off residents one by one, what begins as random revenge killings are soon revealed to be part of a larger, sinister holiday plan. Will the town uncover the killer and survive the holidays… or become guests at his twisted holiday dinner table?
Eli Roth celebrates his tenth directed film with his latest offering, Thanksgiving, based on his story and mock trailer from Grindhouse (2007). The opening scene accurately depicts the absolute chaos that customers can experience during the black Friday sales. We see crowds rushing towards the front of the closed store, with some people causing a bit of rowdiness in trying to secure some discounted items. But Roth puts his spin and twist on this in a gory, bloody Final Destination way. We see people with limbs becoming detached from their bodies and a scalp being torn down the middle of a woman’s head. This is ridiculously over-the-top and head-turning violence, but nothing less is inspected by horror fanatic Eli Roth. He always injects his style with every movie that he does, and he sure goes for it, even if it can be risky and topical. The tone and story work well, and the opening showcase of madness creates the ingredients and hints at what to expect from the rest of the movie. It almost feels like a seasonal holiday version of the Scream franchise, with a little less mystery. The characters are not entirely that interesting, which could be done on purpose as they are picked off one by one almost immediately, so we don’t have time for formalities.
In terms of entertaining fun kills and holiday-themed kills, Thanksgiving always stays loyal to the current theme of the American national holiday. It is disgustingly violent; in particular, there is a scene involving a turkey that will put you off your appetite for any upcoming meals. But what makes this slasher movie different from the others is the creativity and inventive decisions used during the kills. There are moments when certain scenes visually look cinematic and are lit beautifully. One part involves a trampoline with all the components to make a potential highlight for the movie. The thought and care used for each kill have to be praised, and it does make an impact. As mentioned, the main characters are complex to like due to their lack of personality, but they do all blend, and you still get on board with the journey. However, their story could be more engaging and appealing, like the film’s opening, which needs to be thoroughly explored. There are always those reoccurring themes of grief and pain in the community following the black Friday tragedy, which is a far more compelling story than dealing with our main characters and their worries about relationships and other nonsense.
The right mindset is required when watching Thanksgiving and dealing with the vulgarity and the bloody gore fest, but you will not be required to use your brain. The film feels plucked from the 80s; it consistently has that vibe and feel to it while not taking itself seriously and always having fun. The story is barely interesting, enough to keep you invested, but it only exists to give a narrative for the kills. These are highly detailed and grotesque, and their lack of tameness has to be admired; they went into this risk-free. Although no concentration is needed, there is always that cleverness behind it when the killer is revealed, and it rules out the predictability that is almost ingrained into every other horror slasher movie. It keeps you guessing, which is good to see; it gives that respect and confidence to the audience. There won’t be any awards for the screenplay or acting, but it isn’t setting out to be anything other than a bit fun, topped off with blood, body parts and turkey.