Thanksgiving (2023) The Carver Wileds A Pitchfork
Sony/Tri-Star Pictures

[Review] Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING is a 3-Course Meal of Gore, Gags, and Grade-A Slasher Horror

Horror maestro Eli Roth returns with the long-awaited Thanksgiving, ushering in a new holiday-themed slasher villain with a one hell of an appetite for body destruction. After an ill-advised early Black Friday sale results in several grizzly deaths, a masked madman known as The Carver turns a small town into his hunting ground as he seeks revenge on the people responsible. It’s dyed-in-the-wool Slasher with some best-of-the-year kill sequences and made with lifelong horror fans in mind.

Adapted from a fake movie trailer included in Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse (2007), Roth’s Thanksgiving is the throwback the Slasher crowd has been dying to see for over a decade now. Expanding on the camp and craze of that previous short, Thanksgiving (2023) reunites Roth and previous Thanksgiving (2007) screenwriter Jeff Rendel with an expanded cast including Patrick Dempsey (Scream 3), Gina Gershon (Bound), Rick Hoffman (Hostel), and Nell Verlaque (Big Shot).

“A dyed-in-the-wool Slasher with some best-of-the-year kill sequences!”

True to the spirit of the original short, Thanksgiving (2023) is a wild ride of kitschy Thanksgiving references, inventive kill sequences, and laugh-out-loud gags. The promise of that fake trailer was mid-80s sleaze and buckets of blood, and this decidedly more modern re-imagining delivers the goods. What we lost in grime and absurdity, we gained in polished mayhem and blood-splattered hijinks.

Maybe the biggest strength of Thanksgiving (2023) is it’s back-to-basics approach to building a modern slasher story. It’s not trying to re-invent the wheel, it’s just here for a good time. Sure, this by-the-books Holiday Slasher might not blow your mind, but it delivers a fresh avalanche of horror that comes crashing down on a group of sex-crazed teenage and small-town jerks in gore-tastic displays of death & destruction. And in keeping with the whodunit tradition of a tried-and-true Slasher, everyone’s a suspect. I love a good murder mystery and over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at guessing the murderer before the final act reveal. But not this time!



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Thanksgiving (2023) The Carver Considers His Next Victim
Sony/Tri-Star Pictures

The entire cast is playing in existing, established archetypes. From the loveable Sherrif Newlon (Dempsey) and the town’s most hated millionaire Thomas Wright (Hoffman), to our grieving Final Girl Jessica (Verlaque) and her competing boy-toys Ryan & Bobby (Milo Manheim & Jalen Thomas Brooks), these characters are as copy+pasteable as any overworked horror movie trope. But in a solid effort to keep the mystery alive, each of them (including a half dozen I haven’t even mentioned) are given enough suspicion that the identity of the killer is served up like a surprise slice of pumpkin pie after a gluttonous feast of beheadings and body destruction.

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving (2023) delivered on a promise I think a lot of us horror nerds were worried he might not be able to keep. The concept short that we all fell in love set the bar so high that I was as worried as I was excited to see this Holiday Slasher finally come to life. Although abandoning the sleaze and outlandish gags of its Grindhouse trailer, it still served up a buffet of axe-murderer madness on a silver platter. I’d love nothing more than to see the The Carver become a franchise villain and although we were warned there would be “no leftovers” this Thanksgiving, fingers-crossed we’ll be lucky enough to have a second helping in the years to come.

“A wild ride of kitschy Thanksgiving references, inventive kill sequences, and laugh-out-loud gags.”

Did you see Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving this season? Share your thoughts on this new Holiday Horror with us on Twitter, Threads, Instagram, Facebook, and in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.

Thanksgiving (2023) The Carver Wileds A Pitchfork
[Review] Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING is a 3-Course Meal of Gore, Gags, and Grade-A Slasher Horror
TL;DR
Eli Roth's Thanksgiving (2023) is a back-to-basics Slasher flick that serves up a buffet of axe-murderer madness on a silver platter. It's dyed-in-the-wool Slasher with some best-of-the-year kill sequences that delivers on a promise nearly 20 years in the making.
Kill Sequences
85
Story
80
Characters
85
Gore/Practical Effects
100
88
SCORE
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