Thanksgiving (Blu-ray)

After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts - the birthplace of the infamous holiday.

January 30, 2024 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Eli Roth is no stranger to the horror genre, and Thanksgiving is a film that has been teased since 2007 when the fake trailer appeared. That is when he had his Grindhouse attempt. I don’t recall much of the original teaser, but the film acts as something of a throwback to the slasher genre from yesteryear. Ultimately, if you’re a fan of that sort of film then this film should be right up your alley. It could do some things better, but it gets more than enough right to justify its existence.

Set in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the film clearly knows its intended audience. There’s a great sequence at the beginning inside a crowded store during a Black Friday sale. Security is trying hard to control the crowd and keep everyone calm and rational, but this is a horror movie after all, and things take an ugly turn. The crowd gets wild, and we see bodies getting trampled on and dismembered and it leaves the single cop, Eric Newton (Patrick Dempsey) with little in his power to stop the madness. Jessica Wright (Nell Verlaque) is one of the main characters here. Her father, Thomas (Rick Hoffman) owns the supermarket featured in the film, and this is one plot point focusing on now wanting to continue the Black Friday traditions. The killer in the film wears a John Carver mask and certainly has targets in mind. We’re treated to more than a handful of characters here, more than I care to name, but it’s good I suppose in this case to keep the kill count high. These are the typical characters (mostly teens) found in horror flicks, so they can range from irritating to downright dumb throughout the film.

One thing the film gets right is the central mystery of who the killer is. I will say that I didn’t guess it, though I had a short list of suspects in my head. It works in that way as something of a mystery, but then there’s the death sequences which are gross, but also rather clever. It’s a film that’s best seen either with a large group theatrically or at home with some friends who can all react in their own way and add to the experience. It isn’t a modern classic, or the best slasher I’ve seen, but it more than gets the job done. I had fun watching it and it looks like they had a good time making it as well. It’s nice to see that it doesn’t take itself too seriously either.

Video: How’s it look?

As is the case with most any horror film, we can expect a pretty dark color palette for the duration. Don’t be fooled, though, some of the opening sequences are brimming with color and the wide 2.39:1 AVC HD encode makes the most of the screen’s real estate. We do get a more earthy, yet darker color palette that resemble, you guessed it, Thanksgiving. There’s really nothing to complain about with this one. I’ve always enjoyed the way Roth’s films are presented and this is no exception. That and Sony puts out some of the best-looking Blu-ray’s on the market. This one is a winner all around.

Audio: How’s it sound?

I’m sure the obligatory 4K offering will come around with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, but for the time being we’re meant to be content with the included DTS HD Master Audio track. And it doesn’t disppoint. Screams, vocals (yes, that’s different from screams), surround effects – you name it and this one’s got it in spades. It’s a satisfying combination that puts the viewer smack dab in the middle of the show and heightens the mood. Absolutely no complaints.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Director Eli Roth and Jeff Rendell are lifelong friends and it shows. The two obviously had a blast while making this film, though the obligatory technical details do eek out. The idea for the film, casting and even lighting issues are covered. It’s a good track and fans of the genre or Roth will certainly enjoy it.
  • Behind The Screams – The filmmakers have their fantasies realized when they discuss being able to (finally) make this film.
  • Gore Galore – We get some obligatory behind-the-scenes footage along with some of the more practical effects used therein.
  • Outtakes – You know what’s coming…shenanigans on the set!
  • Deleted Scenes – Just over a half hour of deleted scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut. As expected, most are blood/gore-filled though I felt a few should have been included. Oh well, at least they’re here.
  • Massachusetts Movies – The duo of Eli and Jeff discuss some of the films they made as kids (in Massachusetts, obviously).

The Bottom Line

Thanksgiving is a fun slasher film that knows the intended audience and plays to those strengths. It’s a good guessing game too as you start to speculate in your head as to just who the killer is. It did surprise me, but when all is said and done, made perfect sense. Recommended if you’re a fan of the genre.

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