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.
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.