Patrick Dempsey, Nell Verlaque, Addison Rae, Milo Manheim, Jalen Thomas Brooks, Gina Gershon, Rick Hoffman
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
… a fast-paced, occasionally genuinely funny and surprisingly splattery slasher flick with solid performances …
It might be the Australian bias speaking, but Thanksgiving has always seemed like a weird bloody holiday. The odd mix of cheerful invasion celebration and ubiquitous turkey genocide combined with those unintentionally(?) kinky pilgrim outfits just screams “there’s a horror movie in this!”
Director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) obviously agrees, because he shot a hilariously deranged fake trailer for Grindhouse (2007) on that very topic. Sadly, Grindhouse was not a hit and despite spawning feature length versions of Machete (2010) and Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) –also trailers in the original double feature – the idea of expanding the Thanksgiving short into a feature length film seemed to languish in development hell. Happily, time has healed that particular wound and the longform version of Thanksgiving is finally here. Even more happily, it’s actually pretty solid, and certainly Roth’s best horror project in yonks.
Thanksgiving tells a bloody tale set in the American town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, where a badly mismanaged Black Friday sale (another baffling tradition from our Seppo friends) results in the senseless loss of lives. One year later, a man dressed as a creepy pilgrim known as “John Carver”, begins slaughtering the inhabitants of the town who were involved in the tragedy. Time is running out and plucky Jessica (Nell Verlaque) and her friends must figure out who the killer is before they end up being served for Thanksgiving dinner.
The thing about Thanksgiving is, as a throwback to socially irresponsible slasher movies from the 1970s and ‘80s – which was the intent of the original fake trailer – it doesn’t really deliver. This is very much a modern film with an oddly prim fear of sleaze and genuinely disturbing moments (aside from one jaw-droppingly grisly scene in the third act). If you were hoping to see a fully realised version of the ‘knife through the crotch via the trampoline’ gag, you’re going to be a little let down. If, however, you don’t give a tinker’s cuss about the original trailer and just want to sit back and enjoy a fast-paced, occasionally genuinely funny and surprisingly splattery slasher flick with solid performances, then Thanksgiving is a three course meal plus dessert.