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‘Thanksgiving’ – Review

‘Thanksgiving’ – Review


Family, togetherness, and blood-curdling horror await with Eli Roth’s intentionally over-the-top slasher fest in Thanksgiving! And this holiday season…ALL WILL BE CARVED!

An axe-wielding maniac terrorizes residents of Plymouth, Mass., after a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy. Picking off victims one by one, the seemingly random revenge killings soon become part of a larger, sinister plan.

Known as a connoisseur of the horror genre, writer/director Eli Roth is ready to take the axe to cinemas this holiday season with the much-anticipated slasher movie Thanksgiving. And it’s everything we could have wanted and more. Completely a sixteen-year odyssey, which began with a faux concept trailer for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s double feature Grindhouse, Roth realizes a dream he’s long wanted to bring to life with Thanksgiving. Roth’s initial ‘faux’ trailer shocked audiences in 2007, and now he has accomplished his dream of making a holiday-themed slasher movie. And it’s a damn juice one at that. With all the trademarks of the genre, including terrified teens, a homicidal madman, creative kills and plenty of outlandish gore, Thanksgiving will leave horror fans salivating with glee.

Thanksgiving is pure slasher horror done right. Whether you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s original progenitor of the genre with 1978’s Halloween, or you were part of Wes Craven’s 1990s Scream generation, you’re seriously going to dig this one. While Roth goes to extremes with his horror vehicles, notably his Hostel and Green Inferno works, Thanksgiving is straight-up slasher fun. While there’s a good helping of gore, it’s delivered in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. The kills are gnarly and completely deranged, but this is Roth having fun, and he genially messes with his audience and hypes up the Thanksgiving festivities. One minute, your heart will be racing with shock; the next, you’ll be laughing hysterically, and it’s all part of Roth’s master plan to take the maniacal edge of Thanksgiving to the max.

Roth assembles a terrific cast for this feature, anchored by two standout performances from Patrick Dempsey and Nell Verlaque. For Dempsey, Thanksgiving allows the veteran actor to shake things up as he takes on the role of Sheriff Eric Newlon, who becomes desperate to find the demented killer known as John Carver. Dempsey gives an upfront but slightly feral performance as the dedicated police officer who will do anything to catch the killer, and this is a role that places the actor in a whole new light. Newcomer Nell Verlaque also shines as Jessica, a teenager stuck in the middle of John Carver’s twisted bloodlust, and makes for an excellent final girl and holds her own against The Carver. Addison Rae makes for a fitting scream queen in the film and amps up her acting range, while Roth regular Rick Hoffman brings his own unique brand of acting sleaze to the role of a man who seemingly wrongs John Carver and whose actions indirectly kick off the terror!

Thanksgiving plays fast and loose with its unique mix of slasher horror, and Roth’s focus and unique sense of directorial misdirection keep audiences on their toes. Roth has been open about swapping out the presence of the performers portraying John Carver on set, and this continually changing shadow is part of the action that keeps audiences guessing the whole way through. While the kills are exceedingly gory, it’s all played for fun with a twisted black-humour edge that results in both screams and laughs in equal measure. Thanksgiving is just straight-up slasher fun, and it makes for one of the best times at the movies you’ll have all year.

Thanksgiving is slasher horror done right and could very well be called the most important work of Eli Roth’s career. This is the film he’s been waiting his whole life to direct, and he doesn’t disappoint. The kills are gnarly, the maniac is frenzied, and it all ends with one hell of a bang. Trust me when I say that audiences will be very thankful for Thanksgiving.

Image: Sony Pictures