Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving” has been a long time coming. Since its tease as a mock trailer in the 2007 “Grindhouse” feature by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, fans have eagerly awaited its full-length incarnation. Now, Roth delivers a film that is a nostalgic nod to the classic ’80s slasher genre, standing distinctively apart from contemporary horror trends.
A Brutal Start to the Holiday Season
“Thanksgiving” kicks off with a scene emblematic of Roth’s flair for merging horror with dark humor. The setting is a Black Friday sale, but with a macabre twist. Shoppers’ frenzied dash for deals turns deadly, satirizing consumerism’s madness. This opening sets the tone for the rest of the film, marrying horror with a critique of societal norms.
A Menacing Menace Emerges
A year after the Black Friday carnage, a mysterious killer donning a John Carver mask (an homage to the first governor of Plymouth) begins a terrifying spree, targeting those connected to the tragic event. The story centers around a group of high schoolers – Jessica, Gabby, Yulia, and Scuba – along with other townsfolk, all portrayed by a capable cast including Nell Verlaque, Addison Rae, and Jenna Warren. As the body count rises, the local sheriff, played by Patrick Dempsey, scrambles to unravel the mystery, with key insights provided by Jessica, who uncovers connections to the killer through a series of eerie social media messages.
Echoes of the ’80s Horror
What sets “Thanksgiving” apart is its unapologetic homage to the slasher films of the ’80s. It eschews the typical jump scares and psychological twists prevalent in modern horror, like those seen in Blumhouse productions or A24’s elevated horror films. Instead, Roth revels in the raw, visceral horror that characterized movies like “Mother’s Day,” “Graduation Day,” and “New Year’s Evil.” It’s a refreshing return to the genre’s roots, resonating with fans nostalgic for straightforward, adrenaline-pumping horror.
Roth’s Mastery of Horror and Comedy
Eli Roth has always been known for his ability to blend horror and humor, and “Thanksgiving” is no exception. The film’s pacing is meticulously crafted, with Roth’s expert timing amplifying the impact of both the comedic and horrific elements. The screenplay, penned by Roth and Jeff Rendell, balances witty dialogue and gruesome scenes, creating a roller-coaster experience for the viewer.
Characters and Performances
The ensemble cast of “Thanksgiving” brings to life a variety of characters, each contributing to the film’s tension and dark humor. The performances are well-rounded, with each actor embracing the absurdity and terror of their roles. This effective character development ensures that the audience cares about their fates, making the horror elements more impactful.
A Slasher Film for Modern Audiences
While “Thanksgiving” pays homage to the slasher genre of the past, it does so with a contemporary twist. The inclusion of modern elements like social media notifications and references to current culture grounds the film in the present, offering something new to both longtime horror fans and newcomers to the genre.
A Minor Stumble in the Climax
The film’s climax, while impactful, is not without its flaws. The final reveal, intended to be a shocking twist, comes off as slightly forced and disjointed. This minor misstep, however, does not significantly detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.
Roth’s Best Work Yet?
Debating whether “Thanksgiving” is Eli Roth’s best film might be subjective, but it certainly highlights his evolution as a filmmaker. The film demonstrates that Roth can craft a story that goes beyond gore for gore’s sake, showcasing his skills as a storyteller and a director who understands what makes horror tick.
A Must-Watch for Horror Enthusiasts
“Thanksgiving” is a gory, humorous, and nostalgic ride that should not be missed. It’s a film that celebrates the essence of the slasher genre while adding its own unique flavor. As it hits theaters, it serves as a reminder of Roth’s prowess in creating engaging and entertaining horror films.
For those who relish a thrilling blend of horror and dark comedy, “Thanksgiving” is a must-watch. After experiencing the chills and thrills, continue your cinematic journey with more curated selections at HITPLAY. Each film promises a new adventure, catering to all your movie cravings.