‘Thanksgiving’ Slices Into the Meat and Potatoes of Holiday Horror and Emerges as a Deliciously Gory Slasher
Back in 2007, the blood-splattered amalgamation Grindhouse incorporated a parody trailer from the famous horror writer Eli Roth, showing the terrifying story of the gory trimmings centered on the last Thursday of November. Nearly two decades later, Roth has carved out a large chunk and served it right back into the established genre with his latest horror venture, Thanks.
Escaping its parodic roots and filling its skin with all its previous possibilities, the fresh-faced horror concept takes on the whole holiday horror theme and Roth, along with screenwriter Jeff Randall , extrapolating in a calmness that begins with a blow-by-blow. A riot gone horribly wrong.
In its spine-tingling opening, we meet our main cast of high school students — Jessica, Gabby, Evan, Ryan, Yulia, and Scuba — as well as adults Thomas Wright, Sheriff Eric Newlon, Kathleen, and Mitch. On Thanksgiving Day, supermarket RightMart is hosting a waffle maker giveaway for the first 100 customers. Not surprisingly, patrons gather around the barricades for a chance to get their hands on huge discounts.
However, tragedy strikes when the herd viciously and unapologetically invade RightMart, attacking each other like wild animals. We learn from the beginning that the teenagers are extremely selfish, as most teenagers are. This negligence gives impetus to multiple characters, so Roth manages to keep us speculating about the culprit, maintaining suspense throughout a masterful procession.
Patrick Dempsey, star of Grey’s Anatomy and currently the Sexiest Man Alive, the most famous name on the cast list, and a clear standout. As he sheds the scrubs he’s worn for 10 years and takes on the demanding role of Sheriff of Plymouth, he proves he hasn’t lost his touch even at the ripe old age of 57.
Besides Dempsey, newcomer Nell Verlaque – who portrays Louise Gruzinsky on Disney Plus’ Big shot — who consistently impresses as someone without an ounce of experience on any horror project. Verlaque sells Jessica’s terror, uncertainty and determination as she cycles through a range of emotions as the titular John Carver teases her. Undoubtedly, the chemistry of Dempsey and Verlaque as two polar-opposite characters is Roth’s secret weapon to do this. Thanks one to remember.
Moving on to the kills, each of which is orchestrated in a believable and creative way. Roth’s practical effects team needs a lift, especially since our curling toes and gag reflex work every event overtime. Somehow, as is extremely difficult with gore, Roth does not overdo it; there’s an under-celebrated art to practical effect in horror, and Roth’s team earned more than their paychecks. None of the kills are repetitive, boring, or poorly executed (pordon the pun). But what really sets Thanks unlike other slashers it is advisable to maintain the tension; in particular, a very strong chase sequence between John Carver and Kathleen Karen Cliche. It speaks volumes about John Carver’s character that their 50-something stepmother is, for the most part, over the top, which adds an element of realism. Thanks that most slashers lack.
John Carver is all human – and probably is – to the point where it’s a likely scenario for high schoolers to be overpowered or incapacitated, at least temporarily. By playing on the inevitabilities of human nature (such as making mistakes), Roth sets us a cat-and-mouse game worth following.
We can imagine Thanks which affects the modern generation just as Scream made with the 90s kids ⏤ and damn, we’re having a lot of fun with this ride. Although it’s over the top at times, it includes an undeniable ridiculousness to create the perfect blend of horror and comedy – a recipe that slashers don’t seem to mind. This movie just feels great. At least, Thanks It’s the slasher of the year – but if we’re being honest, it might be the most impressive in recent memory. Roth expressed his desire to create Thanks from the age of 12, which is very telling. From the first shot, we see the working life of an unapologetic filmmaker whose passion and energy for this industry jumps out at you through the screen.
Perhaps it is its greatest appeal Thanks that is, it brings new twists to a well-practiced genre. Everyone knows what standard slashers are, but instead of falling into that pitfall trap, Roth takes everything you think you know and turns it on its head. At the beginning of the film, we get a brutal demonstration of how greedy and selfish people can be, and in strange little ways, you can’t blame the killer for the killing. The killer isn’t that bad, really. At least they don’t dare touch a hair on the head of a hungry cat. John Carver is much more inspired than Michael Myers, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the former with an expanded universe of their own in a decade or so. And the cherry on top, the final girl Nell Verlaque delivers a great performance – definitely better than most newbies.
One could argue that Thanks it’s a bit too formulaic, full to the brim with slasher whodunnit tropes, but Roth doesn’t play by the same rules ⏤ he makes his own. From the point of view of disdainful horror fans, it is surely necessary to repeat that Roth has specialized hard in blending the ever-present strange macabre, with a slyness of engraved matters. At this point, it could not be more clear that he is having fun, with Thanks unequivocally serving up a hearty dose of truly pious visual effects, and a slave-inspired aesthetic that made the director a household name.
With inventive kills that will have you laughing and laughing at the same time, great acting, and super fun set pieces, Thanks will leave any slasher fan wanting a second.
‘Thanksgiving’ is a definitive passion project built on hilariously satisfying visuals, challenging storytelling, and inventive kills that give die-hard slasher fans a holiday treat.
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