There’s a chance that you’ve enjoyed Eli Roth’s gnarly rebellion against the cushy vibe of the holiday. Especially if you at all believe in the content of Evan’s outsourced essay on Turkey Day. Roth’s never extensively or even all that openly sociopolitical. Even the trailer that took the gore-hungry lot of us by very pleasant (you know what I mean) surprise back in 2007 was at least in tune with its bold purpose. The far gorier fictitious trailer celebrating Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse combo surrendered a lot of its brutal flashiness to become the full-lens Thanksgiving. But don’t get me wrong; Roth’s still the sly director, keeping his movies just relatable enough to get to the theaters while almost secretly stuffing them with a sufficient amount of slasher thrill.
What Happens In The Film?
No one wants to rush to work with the threat of getting the boot looming over them. Especially on Thanksgiving. But Plymouth is no different than the rest of America. Consumers with a zombie-like, mindless hunger for things they can’t afford without the Black Friday sale discount have been going bonkers outside RightMart. Mitch’s boss, Thomas, the owner of the store, has understandably kept the privilege of spending the holiday with family just for himself. However chaotic the RightMart lot scenario might’ve looked, it was at least limited to the kind of frenzy that you’d expect. It’s when Thomas’ daughter Jessica and her friends Bobby, Evan, Scuba, and Yulia abuse Jessica’s privilege and find a backdoor to the store that all hell breaks loose. By the end of all the scalping and the crushing of bones and necks, the store was a graveyard. And Thomas and his new wife, Kathleen, understandably swept the devastating tragedy under the rug. So what if Jessica’s local baseball star boyfriend Bobby lost his pitching arm and store manager Mitch lost his wife Amanda? Come the anniversary of the dreaded day, Thomas and co. are ready to slice the prices in half at RightMart once again, this time with more than two security guards to handle the horde of discount-addicts.
Who Did The Killer In John Carver Mask Target?
Has any slasher ever seen a town in mourning? Or, better yet, have you ever seen a cutthroat businessman take a break around the holiday that has the whole country splurging away? Thomas and Kathleen weren’t the kind of people who’d be bothered by people’s outrage. It’s only when Jessica and her friends are tagged on a post by someone with the pseudonym of John Carver that town sheriff Eric thinks to take a closer look at the group that was there before the mayhem ensued. But a cryptic threat with the group’s name cards on a Thanksgiving dinner table wasn’t the only weird thing going on in Plymouth. Evan’s viral video chronicling the tragedy only helped a John Carver mask-wearing killer pick off the survivors one by one. The posts that Jessica and her friends were getting tagged in only got far more terrifying with the inclusion of severed heads. And that only meant one thing. The killer was after the group that broke into RightMart on that fateful day and incited the crowd into going rabid.
How Did They Plan To Capture The Killer?
Decorating the RightMart sign with half a corpse was just the dawn of what the killer had in store. Bobby’s sudden disappearance after losing his precious arm was as odd as his reappearance right around the time of Thanksgiving. But neither Jessica nor the cops were as shaken by Bobby being back as Jessica’s new boyfriend Ryan, for reasons you can very well imagine. But the weird love triangle was the last thing on Jessica’s mind. She had a lot to do, breaking into her dad’s office to steal the video footage of that day being the most pressing errand to check off the list. And when Ryan’s suspicious closeness with the security guard who was trampled to death turns out to be a dead end in terms of the investigation, Jessica and her family offer themselves up as bait to draw the killer out. The plan’s as simple as just doing what they were going to do on Thanksgiving anyway: dressing up as Pilgrims and waving at the crowd from the parade. The audacity of the rich! Desperate as it may seem, the plan was really not half bad. Jessica’d just escaped a near-fatal brush with the killer. Evan and Gabby weren’t so lucky. Seeing as they were dead meat, whether they took a massive risk or not, Jessica and Thomas did what anyone sensible would do in that situation.
Who Was The Killer?
It’s charming how Roth can casually walk past the sociopolitical angle of his parody of the holiday and not look back to reintroduce the same point all over again, a flaw I’d often associate with parodies. And it’s not just this one area that his true intentions are delightfully obvious in. It was a gutsy move to add in the blood-curdling murder of Jessica’s evil stepmother, as though no one would notice what the film really is about. The Scream-like sentimentality guarding the characters against becoming bags of blood waiting to get popped is wonderfully paired with the kind of bloodbath that would give you flashbacks of the recent Terrifier. A nod of approval? Perhaps.
It’s like one of those horrid scarcity of options scenarios that makes Scuba and Jessica’s family set a trap that could majorly backfire. And it’s really no surprise that the killer is confident enough to march into the parade crowd, add some razzle-dazzle with smoke-bombs, behead the mascot, and take Jessica and her friends and family captive. I mean, he’s the same guy who single-handedly took out a cop and a couple of towering Russian bigshots to get to Yulia just so that he could spill her blood and guts in front of her friends. McCarty’s gun was of no use against the comically superhuman killer.
Thanksgiving gives into its genre-blending whimsy by having the killer live-stream the murders, but I’ll get into that later. For now, let’s just be thankful that we’re not Evan and are nowhere near that ominous Thanksgiving table. Are we supposed to believe that Thanksgiving is taking itself seriously when it goes very intentionally ridiculous with Turkey-fied Kathleen on the table? But Roth’s style of parody is always more like friendly banter than criticism. It’s practically adorable that McCarty got to be the one who inadvertently ended up saving the day by being the one who gave Jessica the ring with a spike. It’s this ring that frees Jessica. Had it been magical, it would’ve also told her who the killer was before she walked right into his trap. Bobby’s been kept mysterious for a reason. The cool jock character being reduced to the role of a mere distraction is amusing, although entirely predictable. It was also rather formulaic that Jessica doubted the wrong guy, unaware that she was helping the killer. Just out of the clutches of the murderous Carver-Wannabe, she can’t really be blamed for not suspecting Eric of any sort of foul play. Now that Jessica’s seen the dirt on Eric’s shoes—a loud declaration of his crimes—all she can turn to is her problem-solving capacity in tense situations. Eric’s inexplicably bizarre pursuit of revenge at least needed a legitimate motive. Not to say losing one’s beloved in a freak accident isn’t traumatizing, especially considering Amanda was pregnant with Eric’s child, but it’s not a very convincing fuel to charge his killing spree. It’s in the ending sequence that you truly accept that Thanksgiving is just as much for the giggles as it is for the gasps. It had to be Jessica who’d pick up the musket and cause an enormous explosion. But it’s not just the heroine who gets to enjoy the perks of intentional cliches. Eric’s body not being found in the smoking rubble can only mean one thing—we’re being messed with. There’ll probably never be a sequel, even if we’re to entertain the possibility that Eric might’ve gotten away alive. Even Roth didn’t think the character was menacing enough to get a considerable amount of screentime in Thanksgiving.