Thanksgiving – Teen-horror-slasher from Eli Roth, director of the Hostel films

MOVIE REVIEW – Plymouth, Massachusetts. When a local supermarket’s Black Friday event turns tragic, a year later a butcher in a pilgrim’s mask appears and begins slaughtering the townspeople. As the body count mounts and the criminal taunts the authorities, can Sheriff Eric Newlon (Patrick Dempsey) stop the rampage before more people die in creatively festive fashion?



Eli Roth is best known for his gruesome grindhouse horror films, so it’s no surprise that while he’s made some forays into other genres (such as action sci-fi with the upcoming Borderlands video game adaptation) and a detour into more family-friendly films, Roth’s favourite genre is still slasher horror.



Scream meets Halloween


It’s no surprise, then, that his latest film can be described as a satirical blend of Thanksgiving, Halloween and Scream. The murders are fun, gory and very much in keeping with the American holiday of eating turkey – corncobs, ovens and an electric carving knife are all present – but the film itself is really just Roth having fun in familiar territory again. It’s a little less sadistic than his previous work, balancing all the gruesome carnage with a healthier dose of humour.

The film is largely inspired by the trailer for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s 2007 film Grindhouse, and there’s certainly more to it, but not too much. All you need to know is that a group of pretty awful people – greedy adults, selfish mean girls and pretentious, arrogant jocks – end up either dead or kidnapped in a vengeful plot by a villainous serial killer.

Screenwriter Jeff Rendell uses the original fake trailer as a reference point, not a guide to the feature film’s expansion. The setup is fantastic. At a local Walmart-style department store in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on Thanksgiving night, Black Friday shoppers stand outside in the cold, angry and desperate to get past security. Meanwhile, the store owner’s daughter Jessica (Nell Verlaque, big eyes, pretty face, average acting) and her high school friends hang around inside, taunting and mocking the desperate shoppers on the other side of the glass.



Bloodshed and its aftermath: a serial killer


At least three people die in the ensuing melee, and the escalating madness of the opening scene alternates between bloody black comedy and strangely believable suspense. A year later, a Thanksgiving Day killer is on the rampage, clearly resentful of Jessica and her companions. Screenwriter Rendell lays out a hodgepodge of possible suspects, possibly the inhabitants of a tight-knit community that unravels a little more with each body.

Patrick Dempsey is the suave sheriff; Jalen Thomas Brooks and Milo Manheim exchange dirty looks as Jessica’s competitive, jealous romantic interests. The last third of the film feels increasingly routine, by which time we’ve seen plenty of grit and edge (one with a dustbin lid). But Roth manages to get to the point where the pacing and gleefully sadistic atmosphere are reminiscent of better “Scream” films, as well as a worthy protagonist who is determined not to die.



Typical B-movie horror with clichés, but still fun


Most of the attention here is on Jessica Wright, played by Nell Verlaque, daughter of Right Mart owner Thomas Wright (Suits’ Rick Hoffman), who must try to survive when she finds herself among the targets. She’s one of the few characters to actually have a decent backstory (though her dead mother’s past is copied from Sidney Prescott in Scream and a bunch of other existing characters), and Verlaque makes her quite sympathetic by the time she’s in real danger. The other characters? Mostly clichéd, unnecessary and typical of potential victims, including Patrick Dempsey as a man of the law.

Roth has a knack for set pieces, and together with co-screenwriter Jeff Rendell, they’ve put together a solid, killer action sequence. Yes, it’s your typical B-movie, empty, fun tucatslasher, but it’s still quite entertaining while you’re watching it, and then you’ll quickly forget about it – until the inevitable sequel.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-




Direction - 6.8
Actors - 5.4
Story - 6.2
Spookiness - 6.4
Ambience - 6.6



Eli Roth's Thanksgiving is a satirical, bloody slasher based on the Thanksgiving holiday. The story follows the atrocities of a masked Pilgrim killer in Plymouth, spiced with humour and classic horror elements. While the film is relatively exciting and entertaining, it is essentially a clichéd, typical B-grade horror, with the acting not over the top.

User Rating: Be the first one !

Spread the love
Avatar photo
BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

No comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

theGeek TV