Back in 2007, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature came with multiple fake trailers. Both Hobo with a Shotgun and Machete went on to become full-length movies; and now, belatedly, it’s the turn of Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever), who’s turned his Thanksgiving spot into a gleefully bloodthirsty slasher, just in time for the holiday season.
Set in Plymouth, Massachusetts, it begins on Black Friday at the Right Mart store. When teen Jessica (Nell Verlaque), daughter of the store owner, lets her friends in to get first pick of all the cut-price goodies, a riot ensues, leaving three dead. A year on, the town is still in shock. And then the bodies start piling up, leaving Sheriff Newlon (Patrick Dempsey) with his work cut out and Jess and her chums running for their lives…
Roth recreates elements of the original trailer, including the infamous cheerleader-on-a-trampoline sequence and the Mayflower parade. But it never feels as if the script is ticking them off or building the entire story around them. Instead, Roth has a blast as the vengeful killer – dressed in a Pilgrim outfit – starts dispatching people in horribly inventive ways, making use of freezer doors, bandsaws, ovens and axes.
Featuring some quite brilliant stomach-ripping, face-splitting practical effects, Thanksgiving is also a smart and often hilarious poke at American consumerism and the way the holidays can be just an excuse for greedy behavior. The denouement may not be fiercely original, but by that point you won’t care. The on-form Roth hasn’t had this much fun in years.
Thanksgiving is released in US and UK cinemas on November 17.