Thanksgiving (2023): Fresh Meat #19

I tend to think Eli Roth is overrated. For every Cabin Fever, we get a Death Wish or Knock, Knock. For every Hostel, we get a remake, but with girls, and call it Hostel II. Then there’s The Green Inferno and The House with a Clock in its Walls. He’s made two good torture porn/splatter movies and parlayed that into kids’ movies and generic cannibal movies. Will Thanksgiving change my mind? 

Synopsis: 

After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the infamous holiday. 

IMDb: 6.7 

Rotten Tomatoes: 84% 

Tagline: There will be no leftovers. 

We all know this was a Grindhouse trailer, the third one to be made into a full-length movie after Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun. I’m not interested in arguing about whether those were good movies or not, they’re exploitation, and not necessarily meant to be taken seriously. So, is that what we are in for here with the third adaptation? 

Entitled kids. Rampaging ugly Black Friday shoppers. Macho high school football players. McDreamy with an on again, off again Bostonian accent. What’s NOT to like about this cast? Kill ‘em all, dammit! 

“People don’t act like that! Black Friday shoppers aren’t that crazy!” Yes. I worked 22 years in retail. They are. I have seen some stuff. You are too young, but your mom? She’s a killer. Your aunt? She’s nuts. We called those hand towels arm breakers, because every year, someone breaks their arm over a $1.50 hand towel.  

But yeah. Roth is a splatter kind of guy, so this is right up his alley. This is what we used to expect from him. Him directing kids movies is like George Romero directing a movie about people in armor riding motorcycles. Like, why? Do what you do best, brother. 

On the other hand, if he wanted to get more mainstream, and shed his gore roots, this is not the way to do it. I don’t think he’s going to get the gig as the next Marvel franchise director based off of a serial killing pilgrim film. We, the horror community, might enjoy this, but let’s be real, this isn’t the kind of film you put on your resume to get the job directing the next Tom Cruise vehicle.  

Looking at it from our perspective, it’s fun. Great kills. Great gore. Wonderful effects. Decent red herrings. With the crazy ass rampaging Black Friday shoppers, we have plenty of suspects. The characters are annoying, but what do you expect from spoiled entitled New England high school kids? 

The story is good. The killer’s outfit and mask are original. But what frustrates me is the difference between the trailer and the film. That old grindhouse trailer was so memorable, partly due to the old school feel of it. All of them were straight out of the 70s and 80s, inspired by those films we grew up on. But this film doesn’t look like that. It has no style. It just looks the same as every other 2023 mainstream horror film. This should have looked like Machete did. Or Planet Terror. Or Death Proof. Instead, this could be Scream 13, just set at Thanksgiving.  

I really struggle trying to figure out how I feel about the film. If someone else directed it, and it was an original film NOT based on a 15-year-old trailer, I would love it. But coming from the guy who just directed a fuckin’ kids film, a guy who has seemingly sold out along the way, trying to get our trust and admiration back, it just feels a little too late. Eli wants you so badly to remember the films he made in the past. He so badly wants you to make this film a cult classic and he pulls out every stop to make it happen. But let’s be real, would you applaud Wes Craven if he came back from the dead to direct Last House on the Left 2? Or has he moved past that? Or is that secretly your one desire left in this world? 

You’re gonna love this film. You’re gonna think this is a classic and you’ll promise to watch it every Thanksgiving from here to eternity. But truthfully, next year, you’ll never remember your promise. You’ll go back to watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and decide to laugh, instead. And I won’t blame you. 

6.0/10 Stab Wounds

About RetRo(n) 54 Articles
I like the 80s, slasher films, Italian directors, Evil Ed, Trash and Nancy, Ripley and Private First Class Hudson, retro crap but not SyFy crap, old school skin, Freddy and Savini, Spinell and Coscarelli, Andre Toulon, and last, but not least, Linda Blair.