Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Eli Roth. Starring Nell Verlaque, Patrick Dempsey, Jalen Thomas Brooks.
Horror, US, 106 minutes, certificate 18.


Buy or rent the home premiere on digital from Monday 1st January 2024.


It has been over 16 years since Eli Roth directed the bonus trailer for Thanksgiving that slid between Robert Rodriguez’s PLANET TERROR and Quentin Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF in the double feature that was GRINDHOUSE. A spot-on tribute to vintage 70’s and 80’s slasher cinema, from its grainy film stock to a cast of recognisable genre faces being quickly dispatched in memorably gruesome ways it was, and remains, a high spot in Roth’s spotty filmography. Long promised as a feature from Roth it finally arrives on cinema screens but in a far slicker form that now celebrates the less heralded 90’s and 00’s era of the genre. Happily, however this results in a film that delivers fully on the promise of that original trailer.


The time taken to bring it to screen has enabled Roth, and co-writer Jeff Rendell, to satirise the recent annual festival of bargain driven aggravation known as Black Friday to kick off this seasonal slasher. It is during the opening of one such sale at the RightMart superstore in the town of Plymouth that a full blown over the top riot sets in motion a campaign of gory revenge where a masked killer dressed up as a pilgrim decides to dispatch of a cast of obnoxious teens and greed driven townsfolk in various and gruesomely styled ways themed around the titular holiday.


This is a knowing and loving tribute to slasher cinema that works as both a tribute and a knowing send-up of the seasonal kind, especially the likes of SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT and the original MY BLOODY VALENTINE. The cliches are on full display; masked killers, a teenage cast of jocks, nerds and the girlfriends who find themselves caught in a love triangle where each romantic partner behaves suspiciously and various adult figures who either act disapprovingly, suspiciously, or both and a series of bloody set pieces that make the most of the season in spectacularly gruesome and sadistic fashion.


This knowing streak comes off across more cheekily and in a more appealing fashion than Roth has attempted before. A writer and director whose stock in trade was once setting up a bunch of obnoxious characters you usually could not wait to see dispatched this time around the unappealing traits have been dialled back in at least some of the characters while others are set up in such a cartoonish way that when their time comes it is done in such a crowd pleasing and over the top manner that raises as many smiles as wincing, if you are in the mood for that kind of thing.


THANKSGIVING works for both long-time fans of the genre and for those less well versed. The various ingredients mentioned above combine to make a far more convincing and entertaining exercise in self-aware horror than the recent SCREAM films. No doubt sequels will be planned here, would it be a true slasher film if there were not? Let’s wait and see if Roth can make this as much of a bloody and successful tradition as Black Friday itself seems to be becoming.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans