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Film Review: Eli Roth Serves Up a Bloody Good ‘Thanksgiving’ Feast

TriStar Pictures

It’s no secret that I’ve wanted to see Thanksgiving as a feature film ever since I saw Eli Roth‘s fake trailer during Grindhouse. It just tickled my fancy so much, a slasher movie set during Turkey Day. Well, it’s now real, it’s here, and folks…it’s bloody glorious. Roth has made this horror flick for everyone who loves those good old fashioned slashers. It’s a hoot.

Thanksgiving deserves to play on Black Friday at midnight every year, going forward. It’s a future cult classic, for sure, but it’s also just a good horror movie. There’s plenty of homage to the trailer, but the film definitely exists of its own accord. It’s a throwback type of slasher, but considering how few we get at all these days, that’s still very much a compliment.

TriStar Pictures

One year after a Black Friday riot at the big box store ends in gory tragedy, the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts is experiencing a mysterious spate of Thanksgiving-inspired killings. The murderer has taken up the outfit and mask of John Carver, terrorizing the town. Initially, it seems like the residents being carved up one by one are random, but soon it becomes clear that revenge is afoot. For Jessica (Nell Verlaque) and her friends/family, the vengeance is about to get personal.

As she and her crew investigate the sinister plan, as well as try to survive, Sheriff Newlon (Patrick Dempsey) is on the case. With the holiday drawing closer and the body count rising, John Carver has a dinner table set for them all. Why? And who will live to see it? I don’t want to say more, but if you’ve seen an over the top B-movie slasher, you know what to expect, in all of its gory glory.

TriStar Pictures

This is not an acting showcase, but the cast all know the assignment. Nell Verlaque is a decent scream queen / final girl, while Patrick Dempsey is a reliable presence. Jessica’s friend group (as well as romantic entangling) includes Jalen Thomas Brooks, Gabriel Davenport, Milo Manheim, Addison Rae, Tomaso Sanelli, and Jenna Warren, all of which are fine. Other names here of note include Karen Cliche, Gina Gershon, and Rick Hoffman, but the true star here is the gore.

Filmmaker Eli Roth is having a great time expanding the fake trailer to feature length. His direction leans into the genre with full weight, while the script by Jeff Rendell (he and Roth share Story By credits as well) is never intentionally dumb. There are tropes that the flick follows, but it’s knowingly doing so and with a wink. Is the film high art? No. Is it very entertaining for horror fans who love gore? Absolutely.

Thanksgiving is so much fun. I’m thrilled that Roth pulled it off, though realistically it was always in safe hands. As long as you like slashers, this film is going to be a bloody good time for you. Admittedly, the movie won’t be for everyone, but the target audience it going to find it to be a riot. I know I did!

SCORE: ★★★

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Written by Joey Magidson

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