Based on the fake trailer Eli Roth directed for Grindhouse, the full-length version of Thanksgiving occurs in modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. His long-awaited full-length feature based on the trailer opens on the holiday and Black Friday shopping madness rears its ugly head. A devastating riot breaks out at a local shopping center known as RightMart, resulting in a handful of deaths and a plethora of injuries.
One year later, RightMart intends to run a similar Black Friday sale without acknowledging what happened the year prior. A serial killer emerges, dressed as a pilgrim and referred to as The Carver, targeting those involved with the shopping tragedy from the previous year. Five high school students become The Carver's main targets: Jessica (Nell Verlaque), Gabby (Addison Rae), Evan (Tomaso Sanelli), Yulia (Jenna Warren), and Scuba (Gabriel Davenport).
According to IMDb, Eli Roth states this isn't the film from the Grindhouse trailer but a reboot (so yes, a reboot of a movie that was unmade in the first place). With that said, fans will note several segments from the trailer get fleshed out more in the completed film: the turkey mascot from the parade, the stabby trampoline segment, someone being cooked alive and presented as a turkey, and an overabundance of beheadings.
An Outrageous Slasher Obsessed With Dad Jokes
In between grisly deaths and gruesome unfortunate circumstances, Thanksgiving makes for an unpleasant watch. Roth suffs Plymouth full of selfish, bitter, characters hungry for bloodshed. During the RightMart riot, people get squished to death. They get scalped by a shopping cart wheel. Someone's throat sprays crimson after getting shoved into a broken shard of glass. All of this violence for a free waffle maker?
Jessica and her friends aren't much better than the other jerks from town. Jessica's father owns RightMart and is married to Kathleen (Karen Cliche), whom Jessica can't stand. However, Jessica's defining trait is that she's actively trying to choose between two guys in the film, Bobby (Jalen Thomas Brooks) and Ryan (Milo Manheim), and they always fighting each other for her attention. Evan and Scuba are textbook football jocks, while Gabby and Yulia are forgettable cheerleader types. Don't look for anyone to root for here.
But maybe that's the point. With films like this, one must wonder if writers Eli Roth and Jeff Rendell purposely make the victims unbearable and morally reprehensible so the audience will cheer once they eventually meet their demise. Even audiences who have not seen Grindhouse or its fake trailers, as horror fans, want to see Thanksgiving for the bloodshed, but even that is unpleasant.
Be Annoyed. Welcome the Onslaught.
As a slasher film, Thanksgiving doesn't take itself seriously. The film bubbles over with bad puns and one-liners. Someone gets cut in half and tied into half-off sales at RightMart. After revealing The Carver's identity, the characters scream to the survivors that they don't want any leftovers. The film has a ridiculous sensibility, but its humor or attempts at comedy fall flat.
The highlight of the film comes after The Carver brutalizes one of his victims. He notices a cat sitting by an empty food bowl. Thanksgiving suddenly cuts to the cat eating and The Carver giving the cat a quick pet before going about their slaughter-heavy business.
The first death in the film ranks as quite possibly Thanksgiving‘s most creative. Taking place in a diner after hours, The Carver shoves his victim into a sink full of water, opens the deep freeze, and then slams the victim into the door. The victim eventually rips away to disgusting results and doesn't immediately perish, but the damage leaves them unable to unlock their phone.
Popcorn Entertainment That You Can't Eat Popcorn During.
Thanksgiving overflows with gross-out violence and corny one-liners. The film expands the formerly fake Grindhouse trailer and plays almost exactly as advertised but offers little tasty entertainment. The dialogue grates the nerves, and the characters play as one-dimensional and entitled imbeciles.
There is a void to fill regarding a yearly Thanksgiving franchise. The Carver is outrageous enough to be more enjoyable if Eli Roth allows other directors to play in his grotesque cornbread-stuffing-filled sandbox in future installments. As a standalone film, Thanksgiving leans more into the dumb than it does fun and will likely leave viewers feeling nauseous, especially if they see the film on a belly full of cranberry sauce and chunky gravy.
Rating: 4/10 SPECS
Thanksgiving opens nationwide November 17. We've got the latest on movies in theaters now.