Thanksgiving Review: A New Recipe for Fear
Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving” slices into the horror genre, serving a feast of fear that’s been long overdue. On the platter of holiday-themed horror, Thanksgiving has often been the neglected dish, overshadowed by Halloween and Christmas. Roth, known for his gory imprints in films like “Hostel,” now carves a niche in the slasher territory with a film that blends dark satire with visceral horror, all set against a quintessentially American holiday.
The film opens with a Black Friday riot at a Plymouth, Massachusetts superstore, a scene that is as disturbing as it is critical in setting the tone for what follows. This initial chaos, driven by consumer frenzy, not only serves as a fertile ground for the film’s ensuing bloodshed but also subtly critiques the underbelly of consumerism.
One year later, the town is haunted by a series of murders, leading to a classic whodunit scenario. The killer, donning a pilgrim mask, targets the individuals connected to the tragic Black Friday event. Here, Roth’s script, co-written with Jeff Rendell, showcases a murderer’s row of potential suspects, each with their own motives and secrets, providing a tantalizing puzzle for viewers. The film’s protagonist, Jessica, navigates a complex personal life amid this backdrop of terror, adding depth to the typical ‘final girl’ trope. Her character, played with a mix of vulnerability and tenacity, brings a fresh dimension to the slasher victim-survivor.
“Thanksgiving” doesn’t shy away from Roth’s signature gore. The film’s creative kills are a sight to behold, with each murder more gruesome and inventive than the last. It’s a blood-soaked spectacle that blends horror and dark comedy in a manner that is uniquely Roth’s own. The film’s aesthetic and narrative style pays homage to 1980s horror, eschewing modern horror’s over-reliance on jump scares for a more straightforward yet equally terrifying approach.
However, while effective in setting up a classic slasher scenario, the script falls into predictability. The twist, though adequately executed, might not surprise seasoned horror enthusiasts. Additionally, Roth’s tendency to sexualize teenage characters finds its way into “Thanksgiving” as well, which is a little icky. Worst of all, while a fun ride, it misses the opportunity to elevate beyond the standard tropes of the genre.
“Thanksgiving” is a film that knows what it wants to be and embraces it with bloody arms wide open. It’s an unapologetic, gory delight that revives the slasher genre with Roth’s distinctive touch. While it may not redefine horror, it certainly reinvigorates it, reminding us why we love this genre in the first place. With its mix of satire, terror, and a dash of nostalgia, Roth’s “Thanksgiving” is a film for which horror fans can be thankful for.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5.
Thanksgiving is in theaters November 17th, 2023.