Blu-ray Review: Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING Delivers Slasher Thrills & Kills

3 out of 5 stars

After dabbling in action (Death Wish), kids’ movies (The House With A Clock In Its Walls) and documentaries (Fin), the godfather of torture porn himself, Eli Roth finally returns to the horror genre with Thanksgiving. A film that was first mooted as a fictitious trailer in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s 2007 exploitation opus, Grindhouse, it has taken 16 years for Roth to finally bring the holiday slasher pic to the screen.

Was it worth the wait? Yeah, I guess it was. It doesn’t redefine the genre, but it does feature solid performances and some pretty good thrills and kills, ensuring that it makes for an entertaining couple of hours. There’s also an ending which offers the potential for a sequel – something that every good slasher film needs. 

A stampede at an early Black Friday superstore sale kills multiple residents of the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving.  The tragedy goes viral on social media and a year on, the town is still reeling from the event when a masked killer dressed as Mayflower pilgrim John Carver decides to take revenge on those they believe are responsible for the shopping massacre. Soon it’s not just turkey which is getting carved up in Plymouth on Thanksgiving and the town’s sheriff (Patrick Dempsey) is scrambling to find the killer before they kill again. 

You don’t go into a something like Thanksgiving for logic (because there is none) and the film is a ridiculous affair when you look at any aspect of the story or character motivation. However, it plays a lot of things for laughs in a post-Scream way and the various killings are well-engineered and presented in ways which feel fresh – a minor miracle considering how many of these movies have been made over the last 40-odd years. Nell Verlaque makes for a good 21st Century scream queen and Dempsey adds a nice riff on the role he played in Scream 3 20 years ago. 

Genre fans will be able to guess the culprit, but there’s plenty of fun to be had with Thanksgiving and a second helping would be an unwelcome prospect. 

Special Features

Thanksgiving comes with some bite-size behind-the-scenes bits and pieces. They’re solid but could benefit from being a little longer. Much better are the deleted and extended scenes, early short films by Eli Roth and writer and screenwriter Jeff Rendell and the animated commentary by the pair.

Good stuff.