Reviewed by Alicia Glass
A year after a Black Friday sale riot that resulted in tragedy, the people of Plymouth Mass are terrorized when a killer dons the folkloric mask of the hometown hero John Carver (irony!) to take revenge!
So it’s right around turkey genocide day, and the kids of our high school are having a nice little standoff with the kids from a rival HS football team, or whatever it is, as we do in relatively small towns. The Wright-Mart, owned by town entrepreneur Thomas Wright (Rick Hoffman), is about to have it’s huge Black Friday sale, and though it’s only on the way to the party destination, our kidlings insist we have to stop at Wright-Mart and pick up some supplies.
Jessica Wright (Nell Verlaque) is our Final Girl, but here at the Wright-Mart sale riot she’s just a daddy’s girl who happens to have snuck her dumbass friends into an employee entrance early. Her friends Gabby (Addison Rae) and Yulia (Jenna Warren), and their jock boyfriends Scuba (Gabriel Davenport) and Evan (Tomaso Sanelli) are all gleefully razzing the getting-angrier folk outside the doors, right up until the moment the doors crack and flatten a poor security guard, setting off a riot of epic holiday proportions!
As was brought into uncomfortable spotlights both during and right after the pandemic, humanity as a whole can be some seriously destructive and selfish a*sholes. The riot at Wright-Mart that resulted in the death of the freaking store owners wife Amanda (Gina Gershon) and a few others, saw people beating each-other with waffle iron boxes, trampling and rampaging whilst idiot Evan there just has to hop up on a register and film everything on his phone, frames the idiocy and carelessness of the mob mentality to a T. Director Eli Roth went by an over-the-top method to show the destruction of the riot, which is good because it reminds us to laugh at a scene which is, for some, a little too close to home.
Jess’ boyfriend Bobby (Jalen Thomas Brooks), formerly of the Golden Arm persuasion, up and disappears when it looks like the injury he sustained in the riot has crushed his pitching dreams. And it’s not weird or creepy at all that yes, Jess has now taken up with the boring but very persistent nerd Ryan (Milo Manheim), but still hangs out with her former jock friends and their girlfriends, trying to make a blend. To top it all off, Jess’ dad has a new woman, the plastic-y and greedy Kathleen (Karen Cliché), who wants the Black Friday sales of Wright-Mart to continue merrily on.
Speaking of creepy, this year, a year after the Wright-Mart riot to be precise, masks with the supposed likeness of John Carver, the folkloric hero figure and purported progenitor of Thanksgiving round these parts, have begun circulating round town. And of course, someone with a real hunger for revenge has taken it upon themselves to don a Carver mask and invite the catalysts of the Wright-Mart riot to a Thanksgiving feast they’ll never forget!
The good ole boy Sheriff Eric Newlon (Patrick Dempsey) tries to keep up with the murderous shenanigans, but always seems a step behind when it comes to the Carver executions. First up is the Karen of your nightmares, Lizzie (Amanda Barker) the waitress of the local diner, who really takes the whole half-off sale thing far too seriously. Then the cowardly security guard (Tim Dillon) and his brat of a cat, and a disastrous attempt at a trap laid for Carver during the annual Thanksgiving day parade results in more deaths at the hands of a killer clown (anybody else see callbacks to Roth’s Clown in there too?), and the special VIP guests are late for a Thanksgiving feast with allll the trimmings, served up by the Carver killer himself.
Giving homage to the likes of Craven’s Scream movies, and even the zany early Evil Dead films, Thanksgiving reminds us that our selfishness has long lasting and even murderous consequences, and how the best of us can be twisted into the worst of humanity far too easily. Laugh out loud at the excessive gore and hilariously inventive death scenes, because it’s far too late to cry, and remember to be genuinely thankful for the blessings in your life, lest the Carver killer with an understandable motive invites you to your own feast!
Gobble down as much as you can stomach, of Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving in theaters now!