It was supposed to be just another Black Friday sale in a large retail store located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, the actions of several people from the community led to something terrible occurring during the opening of the retailer, ending with tragedy, blood, and the deaths of several beloved people. Since the tragic event, one year has passed, and Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales are once again right around the corner. Even though tragedy struck the retailer last year, they have decided to open the doors again with more security on standby. However, someone within the community is seeking revenge. Murdering each victim one at a time, a mysterious killer has surfaced and is planning a Thanksgiving where there won’t be any leftovers. Now, several characters are prime suspects, including a group of high school students, parents, and local law enforcement. Can those responsible for the last Black Friday tragedy survive and uncover the identity of the serial killer before it’s too late?
For those who weren’t aware, this film came about when Director Eli Roth created a fake trailer for the 2007 Grindhouse, directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Due to the demand from movie lovers to see a full-length feature and the Director’s passion, we are now treated to the whole story.
Following a similar concept to horror classics such as Halloween, Thanksgiving begins with a tragedy. Multiple characters are set up, and it’s not long until a mysterious killer surfaces, conducting plenty of shocking and violent kills. The kills here do not disappoint. If you enjoy seeing brutal and bloody kills, you’ll be pleased in this department, and the film certainly warrants its R18+ rating. I’m proud to say Eli Roth’s style is all through the craft of this film, particularly in the gritty visuals, horrifying deaths, horror, and comedy. I feel the comedic aspects won’t work for everyone. Some gags and spoken dialogue may seem silly, but most on-screen kills are done for comedic purposes. The general look and costume of the mysterious killer are great, and it’s impossible not to start raising suspicions and theories about their identity. Like a well-done turkey, I found great satisfaction in the slasher aspects of this film, and there were only a few minor issues worth noting. The leading character provides an acceptable performance, but the character herself is forgettable. By the second act, I found significant reveals, including those surrounding the killer, were predictable and obvious. While the first and the second act are on point with their pacing and story, the finale struggles to end with a bang, and editing between scenes during the climax is baffling and seems rushed.
Overall, Thanksgiving (2023) may carry a familiar vibe to movies such as Halloween and Scream, but Eli Roth manages to bring his flair and style along for the ride. This is a violent and brutal film, but to my surprise, the kills are also humorous. The visual style is fantastic, and everything here feels gritty. You will be kept guessing and questioning who the masked killer is throughout. For most of the runtime, I was entertained and had a blast, but sadly, I did find the film’s climax didn’t quite land, and the third act was weaker than the rest. Nevertheless, this is still a tasty film for horror buffs, and I dare say I would welcome a second serving in due time.