Eli Roth’s holiday gore fest has the right kind of stuffing.
Last week, I reviewed the Christmas slasher comedy “It’s a Wonderful Knife,” which had its flaws but still had me interested in its horror parody of the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
This week, I’m reviewing the Thanksgiving horror film oddly called “Thanksgiving,” which is directed by Eli Roth, who based it off the fake trailer he made for “Grindhouse.” I skipped “Saw X,” because I figured it would be more of the same, but “Thanksgiving” does work in the sense that Roth would make his own version of “Scream,” but with more gore. That means people have to be stabbed, split in half, and pierced through their heads. But it could also mean it’s funny and clever.
And on a smaller note, “It’s a Wonderful Knife” is a smaller film released by RLJE Films and Shudder, while “Thanksgiving” is a commercial film released by Tristar Pictures. So the latter should make more money than the latter, as far as I’m concerned. But the price doesn’t make a difference in my opinion. It’s the quality that should serve well.
It takes place in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the first Thanksgiving took place, and begins with a Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving evening. It’s considered to be a stupid idea for obvious reasons including family dinners being the number 1 priority of the holidays and the fact that before the doors open at 6PM, people drive security guards up the wall. And this resorts in them breaking through the doors, causing mass hysteria and three deaths. It was also partly filmed by Evan the YouTuber (Tomaso Sanelli), who decides to use it for popularity.
The next Thanksgiving, the town now becomes threatened by a killer in a John Carver mask. Five students, including the film’s Sidney Campbell Jessica (Nell Veralaque), also get tagged by his IG name thejohncarver, and now, they’re all poised to be on the menu.
The reason why I would refer to Jessica as the film’s Sidney Campbell is because she is able to dodge the killer at every turn. Her dad is the store owner (Rick Hoffman), who doesn’t want negative publicity, which is why the security footage of the riots were deleted. Unless, they were kept on a backup system.
In a love triangle story, She used to date Bobby (Jalen Thomas Brooks) until the store attacks injured his hand, costing him a baseball career. Now she’s dating Ryan (Milo Manheim), the macho athlete, while Jacob (Jordan Poole) does his homework. Consider this in the same analogy as Gaston and Lefou, because the big guy has black hair and his henchman is short.
But Bobby comes back into her life, and he collaborates with Jessica in finding out who the killer is and getting the footage to the public. And they even have support from the local sheriff (Patrick Dempsey), who believes Jessica is a big help in the case.
Do I really need to see people peeling off their own skins on freezers? Not really? Can I read all of the victims? Not all of them. But there are those who earn your interests and heart like Jessica and Bobby, both nicely played by Veralaque and Brooks, and Dempsey does a good job as the sheriff. They all have direction and timing under Roth’s filmmaking skills.
“Thanksgiving” is his first feature film since “The House with a Clock in its Wall,” which I didn’t care for. This one I was kind of dreading given the circumstances of torture porn or whatever kind of horror genre he’s into. But I was wrong to judge it by the trailers, because it’s actually a lot of fun. It can be bloody, funny, and consistent when it wants to be. From the opening store riots to John Carver inviting his victims to the dinner table, this is a horror film. It works on both sides of the equation.