Back in 2007, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez released their cult-classic double-feature, Grindhouse, and the project featured some glorious, disgusting fake trailers.
Two of those trailers, Machete and Hobo With a Shotgun, were eventually made into full movies, while another, Thanksgiving—a contribution from horror director Eli Roth—was rumored to become a full movie for years.
More than 16 years later, it’s finally happened, and Roth’s Thanksgiving is pretty faithful to its fake-trailer origins, while being a solid, satisfying and grossly funny contribution to the slasher genre. Roth isn’t reinventing the wheel with this one, but he is providing a lot of gory fun for those of us who like our holiday-themed splatter-fests.
The passage of time since Grindhouse has allowed Roth to include a new element—that being the riots on Black Friday, when shoppers work themselves up into a frenzy over big deals and free toasters, often resulting in bloodshed. Thanksgiving uses this unfortunate cultural phenomenon as the springboard for this movie’s killer, somebody who dresses up as a pilgrim and hunts people responsible for a Black Friday catastrophe that resulted in deaths in the sleepy town of Plymouth, Mass.
The kills are creative and often quite disgusting, in that sort-of harmless, gory movie kind of way. There are plenty of nods to the original fake trailer, including the infamous trampoline sequence and a mascot having a hard time during a parade.
The movie does play like a Scream movie at times, but Roth manages to keep it deranged enough to feel fresh.
This is Roth’s best horror film since the original Hostel came out in 2005. (He’s made some stinkers since, including the awful Hostel sequel and the terrible The Green Inferno.) It’s good to see him having fun in the genre again—and it’s great to have a worthy addition to the holiday slasher-film sub-genre.