‘THANKSGIVING’ is a slasher film directed by Eli Roth, who did the hit horror flicks, “Cabin Fever” and “Hostel”. It is set in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the site where the first Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower ship arrived in 1620 and the reason for Thanksgiving, which is one of the biggest holidays in the U.S.A.
Thanksgiving is usually set on the 4th Thursday of November and the next day is called Black Friday, the start of their Christmas shopping season where stores offer fantastic sales and a mob of people usually line up even before the stores open to buy goodies at a much discounted prices.
The lead character is Jessica Wright (Nell Verlaque), whose father Thomas (Rick Hoffman, who is Louis Litt in “Suits”), owns the Rightmart Store where lots of people are already crowding at the store’s entrance, eager to get inside for their Black Friday sale.
When she lets her friends in to enter the store through a side store, the people crowding outside get mad and protest. But her friends taunt them even more, so they rush to also enter the store, leading to a stampede that killed people who are trampled upon.
This has basis on reality as there are real life instances of senseless violence taking place between rampaging costumers on Black Friday and you can watch them on youtube. One of the casualties is Amanda (Gina Gershon), the wife of the store manager.
All the violence is ruled as accidental and no one is punished. A year later, Rightmart decides to hold another Black Friday sale even if some people were protesting that doing so is insensitive.
On thanksgiving night, a waitress who was one of the most unruly people at the night of the stampede, Lizzie (Amanda Barker), is preparing to go home. But a masked intruder enters the store and brutally attacks her.
She tries to fight him, but the killer is much stronger than her. The killer is wearing a John Carver mask. Carver is one of the original settlers of Plymouth who later became its first governor.
The town’s sheriff, Eric Newlon (Patrick Dempsey, People’s sexiest man this year), investigates the case but the killer soon strikes again and murders a security guard who was involved in the stampede.
The next victims are Jessica’s friends who were with her at the store when the melee happened. Then, during a Thanksgiving Day parade, the killer throws bombs into the crowd and people scamper away in panic.
The killer succeeds in abducting Jessica, her dad and stepmother. He means to torture all of them, but Jessica manages to free herself and escape. The movie’s climax is the showdown between Jessica and the killer who turns out to be…
Of course, we cannot reveal it here and spoil it all for you. But if you’re familiar with slasher films like this, it’s easy to expect that there would be a lot of twists in the unknotting of the story.
Let’s see if you could correctly predict the identity of the killer. We’d give you a hint: he’s hiding in plain sight and his motive is connected to the death of Amanda, the store manager’s ill fated wife who was the first victim.
“Thanksgiving” was originally a trailer squeezed in the back-to-back slasher 2007 movie, “Grindhouse”, directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. It shows a sexy cheerleader jumping up and down on a trampoline when a knife suddenly juts out of it and her private part lands on it when she does a split. Gross!
That scene is recreated exactly in this new feature length movie, which offers a lot more gristly murder scenes and carnage that will surely make you cringe. But fans of sadistic blood and gore will surely enjoy its shock value. Honestly, we ourselves find it a bit over the top.
The first victim, the waitress, was shown being cut into half by her waistline. The next victim, the security guard, is decapitated. Another female victim’s stomach is opened up and all her intestines and other entrails spill out.
Yet another victim is roasted in an oven like a thanksgiving turkey to be served to the other victims for dinner. The fact remains that most of the victims of the masked killer are not really innocent. For some of them, we can even say that they deserve their ghastly fate.
But we do root for Jessica as the story’s main protagonist and we’re happy that she survives. The new actress who plays her, Nell Verlaque, has a charming presence worth cheering for.
But it’s not entirely believable that though the ax-wielding psychopathic killer has a big gripe, the list of his targets are just incredibly too long. You can say that it’s a case of over reaction.
As for Patrick Dempsey as the most well known member of the huge cast, this is not the first time he appears in this genre as we remember him also appearing as a detective in “Scream 3”. His role in “Thanksgiving” is much more significant, but we’re sure his fans will prefer to remember him as Dr. McDreamy in “Grey’s Anatomy”.