Although the Halloween season has concluded, a fresh horror film has arrived, capturing the essence of Thanksgiving with a respectful title, Thanksgiving. Under the direction of Eli Roth, this movie brings forth terror in connection to the holiday.
In the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Thanksgiving kicks off by introducing us to the main characters as they gather around the dinner table, anticipating the serving of the turkey. However, Mitch (played by Ty Olsson) is abruptly called away from the feast due to his managerial responsibilities at RightMart. Meanwhile, the owner of RightMart, Thomas Wright (played by Rick Hoffman), revels in the holiday festivities at home, having embraced his new wife’s idea to open the store on Thanksgiving day.
Soon after, chaos looms at RightMart as a crowd of eager shoppers anxiously awaits the store’s Black Friday deals. Taking advantage of her wealthy father’s ownership of the store, Jessica (played by Nell Verlaque) and her group of teenage friends gain early access to the sales, inadvertently triggering an uncontrollable mob that forces its way into the store. This frenzy leads to the tragic loss of several lives and numerous injuries.
Fast forward to a year later, the town remains haunted by the events that unfolded that night. With no arrests made and the store’s conveniently malfunctioning security cameras, justice appears out of reach. One of the teens posts footage of that night online, however, capturing the chaos that ensued. This gives rise to a mysterious killer dressed as a pilgrim, referred to as John Carver, who begins to pick off the individuals responsible for the tragedy, one by one.
From the moment the movie starts, Thanksgiving delivers a killer opening scene, quite literally, that sets the stage for the events that unravel, bringing an intense sense of intrigue and suspense. As the cold open progresses, viewers are immersed in unsettling visuals, establishing the foundation for the ensuing narrative. This engrossing introduction grabs the audience’s complete focus, fueling their anticipation for the spine-chilling journey of terror that lies ahead.
Thanksgiving presents an engaging storyline that captivates viewers with its fast pace. From its iconic and gruesome deaths to its dark humorous moments, the film seeks to enthrall the audience and create a lasting impression. These cleverly integrated aspects contribute a distinct and pleasurable essence to the overall viewing experience.
Yet, amidst the horrid and ravishing sequences, the film falters when it comes to its characters. Several of them come across as obnoxious and unlikeable, hindering the overall experience. While their flaws are deliberately included to provoke strong reactions from the audience, they ultimately detract from the film’s potential impact. The presence of such characters only serves to make viewers yearn for their absence, diverting attention away from the true essence of the narrative.
When it comes to its style, Thanksgiving finds itself in the realm of relying on typical horror movie techniques. Even so, it successfully executes these methods with exceptional precision, causing both myself and a few members of the audience to experience a startle or two. The overall ambiance of the film is reminiscent of a fusion between Scream and Halloween, yet Thanksgiving manages to maintain its originality.
Moreover, I couldn’t help but feel that the trailers presented a slightly better picture than what the final product delivered. The snippets of suspense and excitement showcased in promotional materials seemed to promise a more intense and captivating experience. The movie does manage to deliver on many levels, but there were certain expectations that it failed to fully meet.
Nevertheless, Thanksgiving introduces viewers to a truly fascinating and instantly recognizable killer. This notable antagonist takes center stage, fueling the momentum of the narrative as it unfolds. What makes this character all the more intriguing is the seamless alignment of their motives and actions with the overall tone of the film. In doing so, they infuse the storyline with a heightened sense of depth and an air of mystery that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.
By bringing such a compelling antagonist to the forefront, Thanksgiving ensures that it remains an enjoyable slasher movie that captures the attention of fans who are invested in the core elements of the genre. This magnetic presence serves as a constant reminder of the horror that lurks just around the corner, deepening the tension and anticipation throughout the film. Whether it’s the relentless pursuit of their victims or the clever and diabolical ways in which they carry out their deeds, the character’s presence is undeniably instrumental in crafting a thrilling cinematic experience.
Improvements to the script and enhanced character development could greatly enhance the ranking of Thanksgiving. Although the killer’s motive is evident, delving deeper into their backstory as well as meticulously crafting nuanced characters would have significantly elevated the film’s overall impact. By investing more effort, the filmmakers had the opportunity to maximize the movie’s potential to captivate audiences long after the final scene fades away.
Thanksgiving does not reach the esteemed ranks of horror classics, and it’s difficult not to ponder the potential that the film could have had. This is not to say that the current iteration of the movie is lacking. On the contrary, it still manages to provide an enjoyable and entertaining slasher experience, sprinkled with iconic kills and darkly funny moments; it certainly deserves a watch. With the right tweaks and a deeper exploration of its characters, Thanksgiving can transcend the boundaries of its genre, leaving a lasting impression on those who dare to venture into its chilling world.
Thanksgiving is in theaters beginning November 17, 2023.