John Carver standing with his back turned with an axe

Thanksgiving

January 4, 2024
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I’m thankful for holiday-themed horror movies like this one because who doesn’t like a little bit of maiming and murdering around the time of the year when we’re all supposed to be celebrating peace and happiness?

Set a year after a bloody Black Friday shopping spree at a local RightMart left multiple people brutally injured and even more gruesomely killed, Thanksgiving follows Jessica Wright (Nell Verlaque) as she and her friends ready themselves for another holiday season that quickly turns into something to die for. Picked off one by one by a killer wearing a John Carver mask and utilizing modern technology to trap their foes, those involved in last Black Friday’s tragedy, like Sheriff Eric Newlon (Patrick Dempsey), Jessica, her father, RightMart owner Thomas Wright (Rick Hoffman), and the rest of her friends and fellow citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts, must find a way to stop the killings before their annual Thanksgiving Day parade or risk an even worse massacre than the year before.

For a slasher flick that originated as a fake trailer during the intermission of 2007’s GrindhouseThanksgiving is a feature-length version of the same idea that does a great job delivering on the over-the-top kills and dark humor expected from a wild premise such as this. Impressing and at times even outright surprising me with kills that had me excited for what could happen next, Thanksgiving’s inventive and mildly hilarious murders elevate this film in a way that genre veteran director Eli Roth only can — the stand-out opening scene proving this point with ease. Throw in some decent acting and a script that’s more engaging than it had any right to be, and Thanksgiving deserves a lot of credit for what it does right, especially considering how bad films like this usually are.

Yet, for as much fun as I had watching this, the biggest sticking point for me was what always makes or breaks a slasher movie: the killer reveal. I won’t spoil it here, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that not only is the reveal a bit of a stretch and most definitely cliche to the max, but it almost unravels the film’s up-until-that-point serviceable story in a way that annoyed me and had me check out for a lot of the remaining runtime. Other than that glaring misstep, there are a few kills here and there that, while highly amusing to see play out (looking at you, trampoline cheerleader kill), exist for no real reason other than to see something inventive and gory onscreen i.e. why was the cheerleader even jumping on a trampoline in the first place??? It’s satisfying to watch, to be fair, but you get the point.

While the killer’s identity reveal nearly ruined all of the bloody good slasher shenanigans happening before that particularly eye-roll-worthy moment, what we did end up getting prior was nothing short of glorious for fans of the genre, something I haven’t been able to say about many films like this as of late, outside of the always solid Scream saga. Thanksgiving deserves the sequel it’s already getting, and considering there aren’t many horror flicks that use Turkey Day as the backdrop for murder and mayhem, I say bring on more than one.

I’m thankful for holiday-themed horror movies like this one because who doesn’t like a little bit of maiming and murdering around the time of the year when we're all supposed to be celebrating peace and happiness? Set a year after a bloody Black Friday shopping spree at a local RightMart left multiple people brutally injured and even more gruesomely killed, Thanksgiving follows Jessica Wright (Nell Verlaque) as she and her friends ready themselves for another holiday season that quickly turns into something to die for. Picked off one by one by a killer wearing a John Carver mask and utilizing modern technology to trap their foes, those involved in last Black Friday's tragedy, like Sheriff Eric Newlon (Patrick Dempsey), Jessica, her father, RightMart owner Thomas Wright (Rick Hoffman), and the rest of her friends and fellow citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts, must find a way to stop the killings before their annual Thanksgiving Day parade or risk an even worse massacre than the year before. For a slasher flick that originated as a fake trailer during the intermission of 2007’s Grindhouse, Thanksgiving is a feature-length version of the same idea that does a great job delivering on the over-the-top kills and dark humor expected from a wild premise such as this. Impressing and at times even outright surprising me with kills that had me excited for what could happen next, Thanksgiving’s inventive and mildly hilarious murders elevate this film in a way that genre veteran director Eli Roth only can — the stand-out opening scene proving this point with ease. Throw in some decent acting and a script that’s more engaging than it had any right to be, and Thanksgiving deserves a lot of credit for what it does right, especially considering how bad films like this usually are. Yet, for as much fun as I had watching this, the biggest sticking point for me was what always makes or breaks a slasher movie: the killer reveal. I won’t spoil it here, so you'll have to trust me when I say that not only is the reveal a bit of a stretch and most definitely cliche to the max, but it almost unravels the film’s up-until-that-point serviceable story in a way that annoyed me and had me check out for a lot of the remaining runtime. Other than that glaring misstep, there are a few kills here and there that, while highly amusing to see play out (looking at you, trampoline cheerleader kill), exist for no real reason other than to see something inventive and gory onscreen i.e. why was the cheerleader even jumping on a trampoline in the first place??? It’s satisfying to watch, to be fair, but you get the point. While the killer's identity reveal nearly ruined all of the bloody good slasher shenanigans happening before that particularly eye-roll-worthy moment, what we did end up getting prior was nothing short of glorious for fans of the genre, something I haven’t been able to say about many films like this as of late, outside of the always solid Scream saga. Thanksgiving deserves the sequel it’s already getting,…

7.4

Be Thankful For This One

The Verdict

7.4

7

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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