Shadow
Thanksgiving
By removing the grainy exploitation aesthetic of the original fake trailer, Eli Roth’s Grindhouse spin-off ends up as an incredibly gory slasher film that is overwise not that remarkable.

Thanksgiving

Release Date: November 17, 2023
Runtime: 01:47
Synopsis:
After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the infamous holiday.

An axe-wielding killer dressed as a pilgrim terrorizes the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts during the holiday in Thanksgiving. On one fateful Thanksgiving night, Thomas Wright () decides to open his RightMart superstore early for a Black Friday sale. As crowds father in front of the store, a group of teens are let in through the side entrance by Wright's daughter Jessica (). This angers the crowd, who stampede the store, resulting in numerous deaths, including that of Amanda Collins (), the wife of store manager Mitch (Ty Victor Olsson).

One year later, Wright is preparing to hold another Black Friday sale as if nothing has happened. However, a killer dressed as Pilgrim wearing a John Carver mask begins targeting those involved with the riots, which includes Jessica and her friends Gabby (), Bobby (), Ryan (), Evan (), Scuba (), and Yulia (). Jessica seeks the help of the town sheriff Eric Newlon () to put an end to this Thanksgiving killing spree.

Thanksgiving Synopsis

Thanksgiving is a slasher film directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel, Death Wish), which follows in the footsteps of Robert Rodriguez's Machete and Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun as the latest feature film that began life as a fake trailer produced as part of 2007's Grindhouse. However, unlike the previous two films, Roth and screenwriter Jeff Rendell made the creative decision that this version of Thanksgiving was a modern-day reboot of the film featured in the trailer.

The plot of Thanksgiving is set into motion through an opening prologue detailing a horrific Black Friday sale riot, which is all but forgotten by the time the plot moves into the modern day. The film's pilgrim-dressed killer, nicknamed “The Carver,” is out for revenge against those responsible for the riot, taunting them with grisly social media posts, before offing them one by one in increasingly gory fashion. At the centre of all this chaos is Jessica and her competing love interests Bobby and Ryan.

My Thoughts on Thanksgiving

It has been just over two decades since Eli Roth first shocked audiences with his 2002 debut Cabin Fever and sixteen years since he produced the original Thanksgiving trailer, which played in between the two main features of, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's homage to 1970s exploitation films, Grindhouse. While work on a feature-length version of Thanksgiving began around the same time as fellow spin-offs Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, the film did not surface until now.

While Eli Roth does not hold back on making Thanksgiving an extremely gory film, not surprising for a filmmaker who helped to usher in the torture porn subgenre with his Hostel films, though the removal of the grindhouse aesthetic of the trailer ends up somewhat hurting the feature. Part of the appeal of Grindhouse was the presentation of over-the-top exploitation film premises with a grainy and scratched-up presentation. Granted, that aesthetic became somewhat overused in the years since, but there is something not quite right about presenting Thanksgiving as a straightforward slasher film.

There's been a surplus of holiday-themed slasher films lately and I would place Thanksgiving firmly in the middle of the equally gory, yet much worse-acted, Founder's Day and the clever Christmas horror of It's a Wonderful Knife. Without retaining the grindhouse aesthetic, Thanksgiving doesn't have much going for it other than its gory kills and puns such as “There will be no leftovers.” While there's enough to satisfy a hardcore horror crowd, by the end the film isn't all that remarkable.

Trailer for Thanksgiving

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This post was proofread by Grammarly 

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.