Back in 2007, a blood-splattered amalgamation Grindhouse included a parody trailer from Eli Roth that shows a gruesome story about the gory trimmings centered on the last Thursday of November. Almost two decades later, acclaimed horror author Eli Roth has carved a significant chunk right back into the long-established genre with his latest horror venture, Thanks.
Escaping its parodic roots and filling its skin with all its previous possibilities, the fresh-faced horror concept takes on the whole holiday horror theme and Roth, along with screenwriter Jeff Randall , extrapolating in a calmness that begins with a blow-by-blow. A riot gone horribly wrong.
In its spine-tingling opening, we meet our main cast of high school students Jessica, Gabby, Evan, Ryan, Yulia, Scuba, and adults Thomas Wright, Sheriff Eric Newlon, Kathleen, and Mitch. On Thanksgiving Day, supermarket RightMart is hosting a giveaway for the first 100 customers to receive free waffle makers. Not surprisingly, patrons gather around the barricades for a chance to get their hands on huge discounts.
However, tragedy strikes when the herd viciously and unapologetically invade RightMart, attacking each other like wild animals. We learn from the beginning that the teenagers are extremely selfish, as most teenagers are. This negligence gives impetus to multiple characters, so Roth manages to keep us speculating about the culprit, maintaining suspense throughout a masterful procession.
Patrick Dempsey, star of Grey’s Anatomy and currently the Sexiest Man Alive, the most famous name on the cast list and a clear standout. As he sheds the scrubs he’s worn for 10 years and takes on the demanding role of Sheriff of Plymouth, he proves he hasn’t lost his touch even at the ripe old age of 57.
Besides Dempsey, newcomer Nell Verlaque – who portrays Louise Gruzinsky on Disney Plus’ Big shot — who consistently impresses as someone without an ounce of experience on any horror project. Verlaque sells Jessica’s terror, uncertainty and determination as she cycles through a range of emotions as the titular John Carver teases her. Undoubtedly, the chemistry of Dempsey and Verlaque as two polar-opposite characters is Roth’s secret weapon to do this. Thanks one to remember.
Moving on to the kills, each one is believably and creatively done. Roth’s practical effects team needs a lift, especially since our curling toes and gag reflex work every event overtime. Somehow, as is incredibly difficult with gore, Roth doesn’t overdo it. There’s practical effects art that doesn’t get celebrated enough in horror, but Roth’s team earned their paychecks with this one. None of the kills are repetitive, boring, or poorly executed (pordon the pun). What sets Thanks apart from other slashers are the admirable parts that build tension, for example a very strong chase sequence between John Carver and Kathleen Karen Cliche. It says more about John Carver’s character to be outsmarted (for the most part) by a 50-something stepmother than otherwise. It adds an element of realism Thanks that some slashers are missing.
John Carver is all human – and probably is – to the point that high schoolers are likely to overpower or incapacitate them, at least temporarily. When Roth plays on that inevitability of human nature (like making mistakes), we get a cat-and-mouse game worth following.
We can imagine that Thanks the same effect on the modern generation Scream we were the ’90s kids ⏤ and damn, we’re having a blast with the ride. It’s over the top at times, but it contains that undeniable humor to create the perfect blend of horror and comedy – a recipe that many slashers don’t seem to mind. Thanks feels great. At the very least, it’s the slasher of the year, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s one of the most impressive slashers in recent memory. Roth expressed his desire to create Thanks from the age of 12, which is very telling. From the first shot, we see the working life of an unapologetic filmmaker whose passion and energy for this industry jumps out at you through the screen.
Perhaps it is its greatest appeal Thanks that is, it brings new twists to a well-practiced genre. Everyone knows what standard slashers are, but instead of falling into that pitfall trap, Roth takes everything you think you know and turns it on its head. At the beginning of the film, we get a brutal demonstration of how greedy and selfish people can be, and in strange little ways, you can’t blame the killer for the killing. The killer isn’t that bad, really. At least they don’t dare touch a hair on the head of a hungry cat. John Carver is much more inspired than Michael Myers, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the former with an expanded universe of their own in a decade or so. As the cherry on top, final girl Nell Verlaque delivers a great performance – definitely better than most of the newbies.
One could argue that Thanks It’s a little too formulaic and full of whodunnit slasher tropes, but Roth doesn’t play by the same rules ⏤ he makes his own. From the point of view of disdainful horror fans, it is surely necessary to repeat that Roth has specialized hard in mixing the persistently strange macabre with the slyness of engraved matters. At this point, it could not be more clear that he is just having fun, with Thanks unequivocally serving up a hearty dose of truly god-awful visual effects and slave-inspired aesthetics that have made the director a household name for some time now.
With inventive kills that will have you laughing and laughing at the same time, excellent acting, and more than thrilling set pieces, any slasher fan will be left wanting for seconds.
‘Thanksgiving’ is a definitive passion project built on hilariously satisfying visuals, challenging storytelling, and inventive kills that give die-hard slasher fans a holiday treat.
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