Thanksgiving – Film Review

In the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Thanksgiving is the most celebrated day of the year. The table is set, and the festivities in full swing. As families and friends gather to celebrate, others are called into work at ‘Right Mart’ to prepare for Black Friday.

As a mob of angry shoppers desperate for bargains gather outside, things turn deadly. A riot breaks out as they rush the store. In the aftermath, several innocent people are left dead, mutilated, or both.

A year later and for most, it’s like the tragedy never happened. Nobody was charged and the store owner Thomas Wright (Rick Hoffman) spurred on his new wife Kathleen (Karen Cliche – no, really) plans an even bigger sale. His daughter Jessica (Nell Verlaque) feels guilty as in many ways as the actions of her and her friends caused the riot the year before. But soon vengeance comes knocking as an axe wielding stranger in a John Carver mask (Plymouth’s first governor and a Thanksgiving figurehead) makes his presence known.

As brutal killings and disappearances begin to rack up, it’s clear this is personal. Local Sheriff Newlon (Patrick Dempsey) investigates as Jessica and her friends wonder who’ll be carved up next! But these turkeys are already stuffed because this Thanksgiving there will be no leftovers!

From splatter film maestro Eli Roth comes this creative new slasher. Like Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Machete’, this film is based upon Roth‘s mock trailer from the 2007 Rodriguez & Tarantino double feature novelty film ‘Grindhouse’. After finding some success with very different types of movies, Roth makes his triumphant return here to the ultra-violent films of his youth.

I was trepidatious about this film at first, despite being a fan of all of Roth‘s movies including that 2007 trailer. In the case of Machete, attempting to expand a 3-minute joke into a full-length flick resulted in a choppy, aimless feature. However, Thanksgiving feels more imaginative and inspired by its original format than simply an extension of it. It’s almost like this is a remake of the film that trailer advertised.

The story walks a fine line between satirising the genre while still engaging with the schlocky aspects of it. Early on especially, Thanksgiving is silly yet engaging as it introduces its large roster of characters while teasing several as possible killers (not) in disguise. While many contemporary slasher film characters begin and end at being stereotypes, Thanksgiving‘s evolve. One note personalities grow to be actually likeable and the dynamics between characters change throughout. They don’t by any means need this depth and yet, showing his growth as a filmmaker, Roth delivers. There are also plenty of red herrings and clever moments to keep the audience guessing and never bored.

This seems to only last for so long however, as Thanksgiving’s latter half feels undercooked. Many plot threads go nowhere and players disappear for large periods of the film, some never to be seen again. In a way, this helps the mystery aspect of the movie, however I was still left disappointed. The film not quite being as clever overall from the promise it showed initially.

That said, most audiences are not watching for the writing but for all that glorious hard R ultraviolence! In some ways it is tamer than the 2007 trailer but it is still not for the faint of heart. You can tell Eli Roth is in his element when showering us with buckets of blood and guts, ‘one upping’ himself with every new victim who perishes. You can’t help but smile at the absurdity of it, just like his friend Quentin Tarantino would say, “because it’s so much fun!”.

Thanksgiving is hopefully the start of a brand-new slasher franchise. An incredibly violent, completely over the top film and yet still surprisingly intelligent in places. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and you’ll recognise many scenes from other movies, often done better but it’s as gory, shocking and fun as I would expect to see from the filmmaker who brought us ‘Hostel’ and ‘Cabin Fever’.

Sign up to receive weekly updates on our most recent reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *