Sixteen years after Eli Roth contributed his fake trailer to Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s throwback double feature, Thanksgiving, the actual feature-length movie is finally in theaters. The result is an often hilarious but thrilling slasher flick that should please the fans of the fake trailer who have clamored for this movie since 2007. I am one of these fans and had an absolute blast with this movie. I can even argue that Roth’s film is the best of the Grindhouse spin-offs (Machete, Machete Kills, Hobo With A Shotgun).
In Plymouth, Massachusetts, the home of the Thanksgiving holiday, an early Black Friday sale at a big box store goes tragically wrong, when cravings for merchandise, along with fiery tempers, lead to a massive riot, leaving several people either injured or killed. Fast forward one year and the townfolk of Plymouth are uncertain about approaching the tragedy’s first anniversary. Thomas Wright (Rick Hoffman), the owner of the Right Mart store where the riot occurred, favors moving on and reopening on Thanksgiving night for a more secure and better-controlled Black Friday sale.
This plan does not sit well with Wright’s teenage daughter Jessica (Nell Verlaque) and some of her closest friends, who all witnessed the horrific carnage that night. Someone else is also obviously disturbed by the events of that fateful evening. A killer who dresses as a pilgrim and dons a John Carver mask begins targeting the people involved in violence, along with the people he feels are responsible for the injuries and casualties.
Written and directed by Eli Roth, who co-wrote the film with Jeff Rendell, Thanksgiving is the best Grindhouse spin-off and easily Roth’s best period. He and Rendell have created the nearly-perfect mix of gallows humor, sloppy and gooey gore, and whodunnit mystery that should easily make for more fun and enjoyable subsequent viewings. Roth doesn’t ever try to reinvent the slasher flick but understands what makes a grindhouse horror movie exciting and entertaining.
The movie features a great cast who all seem to understand the movie’s tones and perform earnestly despite some of the movie’s more absurd moments. In addition to Rick Hoffman and Nell Verlaque, whom I already mentioned, the film also stars Patrick Dempsey as Sheriff Eric Newlon and other actors such as Addison Rae, Gina Gershon, Milo Manheim, Karen Cliche, Jalen Thomas Brooks, and Gabriel Davenport.
Thanksgiving is now playing in theaters and is a film I highly recommend for fans of not only the Grindhouse trailer but also horror movies, period. It is a worthy entry in a year with great horror features. Eli Roth has created his best work so far, and I sincerely hope to see him do at least one more installment.