film reel image

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Monday, November 27, 2023

Thanksgiving 2023 * * 1/2 Stars


Starring Patrick Dempsey, Addison Rae, and Milo Manheim, 2023's Thanksgiving is one of those movies where the genre steadily inserts itself into any day of festivity. I mean you've got Halloween for Halloween, Silent Night, Deadly Night for Christmas, April's Fool's Day for spring break, and Thanksgiving for well, Thanksgiving. Hey why not. Horror fans are always thirsty and they need their fix. Next year maybe we'll have a slasher flick about some psycho getting his kill on during Yule. Again why not.

So yeah, Thanksgiving is directed by Eli Roth, a guy who wants to make you sick, to gross you out (he probably did it to his buddies via childhood). Eli came on to the scene with 2002's Cabin Fever which did all those things but also messed you up mentally. With Thanksgiving he just goes for the basics, mechanical dispatching, shrill screams, and creative offings. Sans a shocking, opening Black Friday scene, the film is borderline schlock, cartoon-like in its brutality with enough fake blood and guts to power the sun. Um, Roth is not peaking here (as he did with "Fever"). He's almost on marginal holiday (pun intended).

Mounds of corn syrup ichor and discounted price rioting aside, Thanksgiving is about a murderer named "John Carver" (ha ha get it?) who terrorizes a small Massachusetts town by capping its denizens in a screw-loose revenge plot (you'll see). It's all so amusing and initially fun, as Roth's TikTok, teenage characters spew lots of F-bombs before getting picked off one by one. Just think a little Scream and a little John Carpenter circa 1978 and that's what you'll get with Thanksgiving. What fails this pic is how it reveals the antagonist at the end. I mean you don't think he would do any of the actual killing, you don't think he is capable of swiftly moving from point A to B to eliminate his victims, and you don't ultimately care because everything comes off as slightly trivial. "Turkey trotted".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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