Critics Have Seen Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, And They’re All Commenting On One Specific Aspect Of The Slasher

This Eli Roth project has been over a decade in the making. The premise behind the upcoming slasher film Thanksgiving was first introduced as a fake trailer in the 2007 film Grindhouse, and is actually the third from the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino movie to be adapted into a feature-length film (following Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun). Critics have seen the upcoming horror movie, which stars TikTok star Addison Rae alongside Grey’s Anatomy alum Patrick Dempsey, and they are all talking about the gore factor.

The gruesome first trailer for Thanksgiving shows the residents of Plymouth, Massachusetts, being terrorized by a serial killer called John Carver a year after a Black Friday riot that ended in several deaths. With this slasher sharing the same head of makeup and effects as The Boys’ bloody spinoff Gen V in Colin Penman, I’d say things are likely to get pretty sloppy this holiday. But let’s see what the critics are saying. In CinemaBlend’s review of Thanksgiving, Mike Reyes rates the film 4 out of 5 stars, saying this was a movie worth waiting for, with its carnage being balanced by some seriously funny moments. He continues:   

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Fans of the fake trailer are going to be happy about seeing easter eggs, callbacks, and direct references ripped from Thanksgiving’s previous incarnation. Simultaneously, newcomers who are hankering for a well-balanced meal of gore-soaked kills and hilarious punchlines are also going to be satiated. You can clearly see where Thanksgiving started off in the finished product, but instead of resting on their rosemary, Eli Roth and Jeff Rendell scaled their dream into a timely terror that doesn’t forget to smile.

James Mottram of GamesRadar also gives Thanksgiving 4 stars out of 5, noting that Eli Roth hasn’t had this much fun in years, blending over-the-top gore with satire on consumerism for a sick and twisted final product. Mottram writes: 

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.

Charlie Ridgely of says Eli Roth’s trademark gore is put to good use, creating a modern and thoroughly entertaining movie with plenty of Grindhouse spirit. Ridgely rates Thanksgiving 4 out of 5, and says: 

There’s only so much you can do with dark, gruesome violence before it all feels unnecessary, but Thanksgiving represents an evolution for Roth. The violence in this film pushes the boundaries of what we’re used to seeing lately, and it never shies away from its goriest bits. It can be absolutely gnarly at times, especially when it pulls from a couple of key scenes from the original Grindhouse trailer. But there’s a layer of excitable, demented glee laying over the entire film like a blanket. A particularly gruesome kill will make you squirm or grab the person sitting next to you, but we’re all in on the joke this time around.

Emma Kiely of Collider grades the holiday horror a B+, calling it a “gory blast” despite a pretty basic script and predictable twist. It delivers on its promise of creative kills, and if recent slashers have been too mild for you, Thanksgiving should satisfy that hunger. Kiely writes:  

Thanksgiving puts a mean, nasty, and gory twist on the slasher genre, but still retains all the murder mystery fun you can expect from a Scream film. Is it perfect? It’s Eli Roth here, of course it’s not. You best believe Roth is still sexualizing teenage girls, and its script is nothing groundbreaking, Still, it’s one of the best slashers in years, taking the beloved genre to places other directors would never with its creative kills and visceral gore.

Frank Scheck of THR says Eli Roth comes through with just enough “cheap kills” for his bloodthirsty audiences. The deaths are quite imaginative, Scheck writes, including a knifed cheerleader and the impaling of a parade driver. The critic continues:  

Featuring plenty of the gore promised in the trailer, this throwback slasher pic will gratify genre fans who will appreciate the titular holiday finally getting its own horror film along with the likes of Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc. This one is no instant classic, ranking more along the lines of April Fool’s Day than the gold standard of its ilk, Halloween. But it offers plenty of cheap thrills, or more accurately cheap kills, presented with the sort of attention to bloodthirsty detail that horror aficionados crave.

It sounds like those who are familiar with Eli Roth’s work are going to get what they came for in the gore department, when Thanksgiving hits the big screen. After waiting over a decade for this concept to be developed, the time has almost come, and fans can start their holiday feasting at the theater on Friday, November 17. Be sure to check out our 2023 movie release calendar to see what other movies are premiering through the end of the year. 


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