Following a violent riot at a supermarket on Black Friday that left a number of people dead, the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts is trying to move on a year after. However, a bloodthirsty serial killer who dresses like the first Puritan governor of the town, John Carver, is on the loose and targeting those they deem responsible for it. Local sherrif Newton (Patrick Dempsey) tries to keep the calm as locals involved in the riot and a group of teenagers (Nell Verlaque, Addison Rae, Tomaso Sanelli, Milo Manheim) are being targeted by the serial killer...
If ever there was going to be a director who could turn the quintessential American holiday season into a bloodsoaked bonanza, it was going to be Eli Roth. Moreover, any movie that ends with 'Where Eagles Dare' by the Misfits is on to a winner. 'Thanksgiving' opens with a ludicrously chaotic riot inside a shopping centre on Black Friday, with people trampling over dead bodies to get free toasters and cheap electronics. From there, it only gets worse. It's little wonder that IFCO handed out an exceedingly rare 18 certificate for 'Thanksgiving'.
On the surface, it'd be easy to dismiss 'Thanksgiving' as another cheap and gleeful slasher from the director who kicked off the torture porn genre of the early aughts with 'Hostel'. Yet here, there's a surprising amount of wit and subtlety to it. Not only is there a cynical view on consumerism and class structures, and how easily Americans can turn a blind eye to mass murder, 'Thanskgiving' also has a decent whoddunit story going alongside it as the audience tries to piece together who the serial killer is. By the end, of course, the reveal feels slightly obvious but it doesn't for a second detract from the uproarious fun being had by the cast and Roth's direction throughout.
'Thanskgiving' is by no means a unique spin on the slasher genre, but it's not trying to be. It places itself comfortably alongside John Carpenter's 'Halloween' and, to some extent, Wes Craven's 'Scream' with its self-aware twists and turns, and its reverence for holiday-themed murders. The editing and the pacing are kept tight and direct, without an ounce of fat on the story at all. You're kept on the edge of your seat as the murders become more and more violent and the list of suspects narrow, but never to such a point that it negates the fun of it all. This being an Eli Roth joint, you can guess just how much fake blood gets thrown around the place. Gruesome and to the point, 'Thanksgiving' is a blood-soaked blast of genre-infused energy.