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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Slasher films are coming back with ‘Thanksgiving’

Shavonne Chin

After watching Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving,” the only thing leftover is the need for a sequel. 

“Thanksgiving” is on its way to becoming a holiday classic. The film is kicking off the holiday season with over-the-top gore, laughs, suspense and horror all in one film.

An instant seasonal watch with a campy, refreshing whodunnit mystery, this slasher film was full of entertaining, creative kills. It filled the November horror movie void, offering terror in a season filled with Hallmark movies.

Where are all the Thanksgiving movies? I can’t remember the last time I saw a film dedicated to Thanksgiving hit the box office. Roth’s “Thanksgiving” attracts multiple generations with its star quality, from Patrick Dempsey and Rick Hoffman to Milo Manheim and Addison Rae. It introduces underlying themes of goofy murders juxtaposed with local townsfolk trying to solve a mystery — a total sinister feast frenzy.

Set in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the holiday’s birthplace, this town returns to its pilgrim roots. A killer taking on the identity of the first governor, John Carver, terrorizes those involved in the stampeding of Right Mart stores in the previous year’s Black Friday disaster, which killed his pregnant girlfriend. Dressed in a pilgrim mask and hat, the silent killer targets people responsible for ruining his life, leaving him alone on Thanksgiving.

The killer’s voice was not revealed until the ending scenes, making it even more creepy. It added to the suspense and mystery, which is good because Dempsey’s horrible Boston accent would have been a dead giveaway. Even if the killer used a voice-altering device throughout and not just towards the end, the style in how he talked could lead you to guess sooner who it was.

This year’s Sexiest Man Alive gave a surprising performance. Dempsey’s reveal made sense in the end but lacked signs of disturbance throughout the movie that he was mentally unstable or struggling in some way. Maybe a hint at a history of popping pills or anger issues would have made him a more viable option.

Going through a tragedy affects people in different ways. Still, I felt his backstory did not give him enough ammunition to create an altered personality and start to target and kill high school kids. His anger was misplaced, blaming them instead of faulting corporate America for not hiring sufficient security guards and losing control of the crowds.

The killer came up with a plan to kill those involved in the Black Friday disaster one by one at his Thanksgiving dinner, setting aside place settings for people he thought were most at fault. 

One of the most brutal kills was that of Kathleen, who the killer greased up and dressed as a Thanksgiving turkey. Strapped down on the table and shoved in the oven, the killer burned her alive and served her for dinner, propped and tied up on the table.

It didn’t make sense to me that this character was the one who had the most tragic death because she didn’t have much of an impact on the storyline. Hoffman’s character, Thomas Wright, would have made more sense because he was most at fault.

Being an owner of the Right Mart stores, he was the face of the company, and the obvious scapegoat. He started his Black Friday sale a day early and held the same sale a year later that killed so many people. He would have been the better choice, but as a prominent face in Hollywood, it is probably not a great look for Hoffman to be propped up and fried on the table like his partner.

“Thanksgiving” is rooted in the blatant greed and capitalism of Black Friday. This movie emphasized the barbarism surrounding how shallow and ruthless people can be. The beginning scenes showed the ugliest side of people as they tried to score the best deals no matter the cost. This scene pokes fun at how crazy Black Friday can be with a gory twist — people trampled to death, glass shards cutting necks, limbs breaking, all for a deal on a waffle maker.

I was apprehensive of some of the high school characters portrayed in “Thanksgiving” but was pleasantly surprised. Nell Verlaque was able to play the main character Jess, a realistic high schooler, despite being several years older and having a thinly written character development. 

I also appreciate Rae’s character, who I thought might still live in the shadow of her TikTok days, but played her side character pretty well for what it was. Accurate portrayals of high schoolers can be difficult to capture, but Roth attracts a younger audience without using forced Gen Z slang, pulling in $36.8 million in box office tickets as of Dec. 3.

“Thanksgiving’s” over-the-top gore fits the genre, sometimes to a fault. Toward the end, enough characters started to die, which stripped away storylines and lacked impact. By the end of the film, I had started to become numb to all the scary yet cliché killings. 

But I liked it because it was so cheesy. To appreciate this movie, you need to like it for what it is. It is confirmed that Roth will be making a sequel to “Thanksgiving,” so audiences will have a chance to go back for seconds.

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Grace Conneely-Nolan
Grace Conneely-Nolan, Associate Arts & Life Editor

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