Thanksgiving Movie Review: The avenues of cinema are also endless. Thanksgiving, in theaters from November 16, 2023, for an Eagle Pictures distribution, directed by Eli Roth and starring Patrick Dempsey, Gina Gershon, Rick Hoffman, Addison Rae, and Nell Verlaque, is literally the film that lived twice. It was born around 2007 as a fake trailer for Grindhouse by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
Something in the idea settles in the authorial conscience of Eli Roth, who uses the inspiration to write the story with Jeff Rendell (he also wrote the screenplay). An innocent cinephile joke made available to the artistic vision of others is enough to shape a glorious bloodbath of about an hour and three quarters, built around the most sacred and popular American holiday. Not Thanksgiving Day, as the viewer might innocently think by looking at the title. No, Black Friday.
Thanksgiving Movie Synopsis:
Mr. Right (Rick Hoffman) is the owner of a large store, besieged by an angry crowd pressing in front of the barred doors waiting to enter and start looting. Things degenerate, the crowd breaks out; the frightening consumerist orgy ends in tragedy. Many people are injured and some die because people, shocked by frenzy and impatience, lose rationality, respect for others, and a sense of humanity.
A year later, during the first Thanksgiving celebrations after the disaster, a mysterious killer begins to persecute some of the survivors. He doesn't choose them at random, he focuses only on those who he considers morally responsible for the massacre. He wants to make him pay, reserving for him the fate of the stuffed turkey which is the symbol of the holiday.
Thanksgiving Movie Analysis:
The Film That Lived Twice is also a double film. On the one hand, Thanksgiving is a pure slasher exercise: the provocation of a director who questions himself (and us) about the possibilities offered by the combination of cinema and the representation of violence. It will be up to the viewer's conscience and sensitivity to decide if and how far the film has gone.
The violence is furious, foul-mouthed, disgusting, so charged, crazy, and exasperated that it is almost funny. A very black and very perverse fun, it is clear, which serves to balance the horror, to exorcise the shock, and to put things back in their place.
Thanksgiving is the homage that Eli Roth dedicates to a certain type of horror cinema, one that enjoys desecrating the innocence of the most beloved holidays - from Black Christmas to Halloween, the examples are many - but it should not be considered a pretentious authorial exercise (in a horror key) on violence and representation.
It's true that the philosophy of the film is a bit halfway between the social criticism of George A. Romero and the disturbing chronicle of the suburbs that John Carpenter likes so much, with a sprinkling of Saw-style moralism; of the moralistic genre par excellence, horror, the most moralistic saga of all.
The priority, the guiding star of the film, beyond the aesthetic provocations, is actually much more linear: solid, provocative, and bloody entertainment. Thanksgiving enjoys ridiculing the furious and blind consumerist obsession of our times, tackling head-on the hypocrisies of a world devoted to profit and oppression, in which the only mantra is to accumulate, prevail, and crush.
Life and death are games, it is difficult to recognize in the other a "full", complete subject. This is why it is easy to rage against the defenseless: because they are things, no longer people. Ultimately, this is precisely the perverse symmetry of the killer, his absurd moral justification: he treats his victims as (he says) they treated the victims of the riot.
America according to Eli Roth - and the vision is anything but reassuring - is a picture of dark colors, rambling chaos with bigotry (the Puritans), and unbridled materialism at the extremes of the spectrum. There is also an individual dimension that is close to the film's heart, the story of intimacy and the little big secrets of the characters, which overlaps with the wide-ranging reflection.
The narrative structure of the film is built on this principle: progressively sliding from the public to the private level and vice versa. The film That Lived Twice has been mentioned, and the double film has been brought up, but it is not correct. The horror of Thanksgiving is a fantasy in three parts: pure violence, social satire, and private dilemmas.
Thanksgiving: evaluation and conclusion:
Many, perhaps too many irons in the fire. The film also works on the excesses of narcissism and the invasiveness of social media, manipulating them for narrative purposes and making fun of them. The freshness of the faces of the kids, above all Nell Verlaque and Addison Rae (singer and social celebrity), also serves this purpose. Sometimes the satire is sharp and precise, sometimes lazy.
The limit of the film is its courage, the ambition to hold together many reading levels as well as a very violent and very ferocious aesthetic. It works, on the whole, because Eli Roth has an instinctive feel for the genre's high-speed shocks and pulses. His story accumulates a lot and does not return with uniformity, but the audacity of the proposal must be appreciated more than any weaknesses.