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  • Rev Horror


Dir. Eli Roth (2023)

A year after a Black Friday tragedy, the town of Plymouth begins to experience a rash of brutal killings.

I'm a huge slasher movie fan, which should come as no surprise to anyone who reads pretty much anything I've written. I'm also a big fan of holiday-themed horror, despite the fact that most of these films are subpar at best and awful more often than good. While I was disappointed I didn't get to check this one out when it was in theaters, I was definitely glad to see that it had finally debuted on Netflix, and despite my initial desire to review this closer to November, I felt like now was the time to dig in since everyone else was already checking it out. I'm a fan of Eli Roth, despite his complicity in helping to usher in the torture porn craze that almost ruined the genre for good in the early 2000's, so when I found out he was making good on his fake trailer for Thanksgiving, I knew that I had to see what he came up with. Thankfully, he does a phenomenal job as always, and Thanksgiving is one of the better slasher movies in recent years.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, a town whose chief exports appear to be terrible accents and a rock that nobody has cared about for 200 years, serves as the backdrop for this fun Turkey Day slasher. After a terrible tragedy befalls the town on Black Friday, when a mob of anxious shoppers looking to get a free waffle iron accidentally kills several people in their path, the townspeople who were involved in the tragedy begin dying in increasingly brutal ways. Jessica (Nell Verlaque), whose father Thomas (Roth mainstay Rick Hoffman) owns the store where the events occurred, finds herself targeted by the killer, who calls himself John Carver after the town's founder. She and her friends must struggle to escape the masked killer in his Thanksgiving-themed deadly assault on the town, seeking to survive the day and prevent Carver from fulfilling his revenge plot.

Slasher movies are generally pretty cheesy, and there are certainly some aspects of Thanksgiving that fall into that category as well. By and large, however, the film does a great job of delivering a complete narrative without any particularly large plot holes, a rarity in the genre that Roth knows so well. Fans of his work know that the director is a fanboy first and foremost, and he tends to deliver his films in a way that is directly aimed at fans like himself. Thanksgiving is no different, with several homages to earlier films like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Thanksgiving is, ultimately, a slasher movie for people who like slasher movies, so it makes perfect sense that it was so well received upon release, quickly becoming Roth's most lauded film in a career that is already full of great movies.

The kills are on point, with delightfully bloody setpieces and inventive deaths that hearken back to the fantastic slashers of the 80's. John Carver is a fantastically deranged killer, and while the finale of the film leans pretty heavy into the Thanksgiving theme in ways that are both distasteful and outstanding, the rest of the kills that flesh out the film are even bloodier. I actually felt shades of Final Destination in a few of the scenes as well, and while there is a certain element of Roth's trademark torture porn present throughout, horror fans in general are bound to be happy with what appears on-screen. There are a few jumpscares, a variety of murder weapons, and enough creativity to make Thanksgiving a movie that will warrant several watches to really appreciate everything that happens.

There's not much about the film that doesn't work. The acting is good, the plotting never drags, and the opening scene, a crucial element in a modern slasher, is handled to near perfection. Even the soundtrack, an oft-forgotten piece of the slasher puzzle, is handled exceptionally well. As someone who considers the slasher film the absolute best subgenre in horror, I wasn't at all surprised that I enjoyed this film. I was, however, surprised at just how good it is. Rather than becoming just another forgettable film that will find its niche and satisfy only the most hardened slasher fanatics, Thanksgiving is a movie that feels like a franchise-starter, a film that will be worth adding to a holiday rotation for a holiday that has been severely lacking in entries. Move over, Thankskilling, Eli Roth has taken your Turkey Day crown.

Who this movie is for: Slasher fans, Thanksgiving lovers, Pilgrims

Bottom line: Filled to the brim with bloody kills and slasher movie tropes, Thanksgiving is the Turkey Day horror you didn't know you needed in your life. Eli Roth has once again proven himself able to deliver what the fans want, and this is one that you need to check out immediately. It's one of the best slashers in years, and it's definitely a film that you'll want to add to an at least yearly watch list. Check it out streaming on Netflix now.


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