It’s the holiday when families are supposed to come together and express gratitude for all they have and each other, but in the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Thanksgiving has a much darker side to it, the 2022 celebration parade having been overshadowed by the RightMart riot the night before which left three dead including the wife of manager Mitch Collins and dozens others injured in the chaos of the Black Friday sale opening night.
A year later, the police investigation has not progressed due to the camera footage having been accidentally deleted and despite many feeling he is to blame RightMart owner Thomas Wright intends to press ahead with another sale and a more pronounced security presence, but his daughter Jessica and her friends who were witnesses and survivors have another concern, a persistent online stalker who keeps tagging them in images of a Thanksgiving table, a reminder of things they would rather forget.
A festive celebration of generous proportions from Eli Roth, director of Hostel, Cabin Fever and The Green Inferno, Thanksgiving stands as both a vicious slasher movie of inventive and suitably themed kills and a satire of the holiday where everyone has plenty and yet still wants more, the opening scene depicting people crushed, trampled and run over by shopping carts, life pretty cheap to the shopper who senses a bargain in the land of the free.
The killer wearing a mask based on John Carver, first governor of Plymouth Colony where the good harvest of 1621 prompted the now traditional celebrations, Jeff Rendell’s script sets up a premise where the whole town has been impacted by the tragedy meaning that anyone can be a suspect, though with the killer obviously tall and slender two of the more obvious choices can swiftly be ruled out, but playing with the typical structure of isolation and escalation the film is satisfyingly unpredictable.
The ensemble including Patrick Dempsey, Ty Victor Olsson, Gina Gershon, Jeff Teravainen and Rick Hoffman as Sheriff Eric Newlon, Mitch and Amanda Collins, Deputy Bret Labelle and Thomas Wright, the kids wanted at the dinner table are Nell Verlaque, Addison Rae, Jalen Thomas Brooks, Milo Manheim, Tomaso Sanelli, Gabriel Davenport and Jenna Warren as Jessica and her diminishing circle of friends, football players and cheerleaders alike set for the chop.
Nobody safe from the angry pilgrim with a pitchfork and an appreciation of the true values of the holiday, Thanksgiving is a twisted celebration of both the season and the genre which is entertaining and accessible to a broader audience, playing as both a horror comedy and a mystery, Roth aware of the success of his family friendly House with a Clock in Its Walls and toning down the torture porn excess of his earliest films while still turning the oven up to high to get the potatoes crispy when the time is right.
Thanksgiving is currently on general release