Thanksgiving Movie Review: Eli Roth’s Gruesome Feast of Horror and Cheeky Fun

Directed by Eli Roth and Starring Nell Verlaque, Patrick Dempsey, and Addison Rae

Thanksgiving review
Thanksgiving, Eli Roth

Eli Roth, a significant figure in gnarly genre filmmaking, takes a stab at the holiday horror subgenre with Thanksgiving, a movie that successfully balances gore, satire, and a twisted sense of humor. Roth, known for his unapologetically brutal style, delivers a horror-thriller that not only embraces the conventions of the genre but also winks at them, creating an entertaining if not entirely groundbreaking Thanksgiving slasher.

Set against the backdrop of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Roth plunges us into a world of chaos and bloodshed during a Black Friday sale at the local RightMart superstore. The film kicks off with a riot that claims many lives, setting the stage for the following year filled with terror and suspense. While the premise might seem familiar or schlocky on paper, Roth injects enough of his signature style to make Thanksgiving stand out in a crowded horror landscape.

Nell Verlaque leads the cast as Jessica, daughter of the RightMart store owner. The film introduces us to her group of friends as they become entangled in a web of mystery and violence, with Addison Rae and Milo Manheim among them. While the performances may not reach Oscar-worthy heights, the cast effectively embodies the archetypal horror characters, many of them falling victim to the sadistic whims of the mysterious killer known as “John Carver.”

Roth’s knack for blending horror with dark comedy is on full display in Thanksgiving. The film dances on the line between being knowingly goofy and genuinely deranged, a balancing act that many recent attempts in the horror-comedy subgenre struggle to achieve. Roth’s willingness to be both cheeky and gruesome adds a layer of fun to the film, making it a rollercoaster of laughs and scares.

And the kills in Thanksgiving are certainly a highlight, living up to Roth’s reputation for crafting gnarly and unrelenting horror sequences. The movie revels in its brutality, delivering gore that will satisfy even the most seasoned horror enthusiasts. It’s a relentless onslaught that doesn’t shy away from pushing the boundaries of the genre.

Reviews for Movies like Thanksgiving (2023)

The film’s self-awareness, particularly its nods to recent Scream remakes in plot details and structure, may polarize audiences. Some might feel it treads too closely to familiar territory, while others will appreciate the homage as part of Roth’s unique vision. Thanksgiving certainly feels like an Eli Roth movie, with its dark and grimy sets, ambitious horror sequences, and a ferocious, intense energy that permeates every frame.

Amidst the blood-soaked mayhem, performances vary, with the aforementioned TikTok personality Addison Rae delivering a surprisingly refreshing turn in her role. Patrick Dempsey’s presence adds a layer of gravitas, and while some of the other teenage characters may feel like empty caricatures, they serve as vessels for Roth’s twisted imagination.

As the mystery of “John Carver” unfolds, the film loses some of its tension, leaning heavily on classic slasher tropes. However, the pace and energy of Roth’s direction keep the audience engaged, even when the narrative dips into predictable territory.

Thanksgiving is a gruesome feast for horror fans, blending Eli Roth’s signature style with a holiday twist. It may not reinvent the genre, but its willingness to be both funny and terrifying sets it apart. With its intense energy, memorable kills, and a few notably fun and surprising performances, Thanksgiving earns its place as a darkly entertaining addition to the ever expanding holiday horror canon.


Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

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Thanksgiving Film Cast and Credits

Thanksgiving movie poster


Nell Verlaque as Jessica

Patrick Dempsey as Sheriff Eric Newlon

Addison Rae as Gabby

Milo Manheim as Ryan

Jalen Thomas Brooks as Bobby

Gabriel Davenport as Scuba


Director: Eli Roth

Writers: Eli Roth, Jeff Rendell

Cinematography: Milan Chadima

Editors: Michele ConroyMichel Aller

Composer: Brandon Roberts

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