'Thanksgiving': A Gory Film Stuffed Full of Capitalist Critique

A fantastically gruesome flick chock-full of gore - but is there more to it than just blood and guts?

Josh Hague
23rd November 2023
Image Source: IMDb
As we get closer and closer to the depths of winter, with December just around the corner, Thanksgiving might have come just in time. A new feature film from director Eli Roth, known for his gory slashers, this movie is no different, packed full of gut-wrenching and head spinning deaths that’ll be sure to have you skipping your next meal.

The film follows a group of teens who one year after a tragic Black Friday accident, find themselves being targeted and hunted down by a sadistic killer, looking to serve up a stomach churning platter of revenge. Whilst the film easily delivers on interesting kills, and funny one liners, the film really feels as though it’s a trojan horse for something even scarier: the plights of consumerism.

Without spoiling too much, the film opens with a ten minute sequence setting the scene and motive for the movies grisly story. We see a crowd of customers impatiently waiting for the commencement of Right Marts Black Friday sale, who as time passes and after seeing the movies protagonist teens enter early, begin to get more and more frustrated as they become desperate for the deals. Eventually, a riot starts that leads to the deaths of multiple people at the store, one of these kills being an easy highlight in this films horrific beats, leaving me emotionally and physically disturbed in how it played out.

But what this ten minute opening does is perfectly set up the second, unspoken villains of the movie: capitalism and consumerism. Of course, some may argue this is a bit of a stretch to make, considering it’s a run-of-the-mill, classic gory slasher film that stars Addison Rae, would they really be using this to critique capitalism?

Thanksgiving knows the audience they are attempting to target, horror fans and lovers of fun kills and gore, and they easily mange to go above and beyond in cooking up a feast for these viewers

Yes, yes they would. This grotesque, violent Black Friday sequence perfectly represents the hyperbolic, extreme extents that consumerism can make people go to, literally pushing people to murder one another to secure a discounted waffle iron. By presenting to the audience the effects of consumerism and using it as the key plot point and motive for the movie, the creators position capitalism as being just as evil as the films antagonistic killer, ‘John Locke’.

This capitalistic critique doesn’t end there, as a year later, we learn the store’s owner, Thomas Wright, refuses to close even after pressure from protestors to do so, this decision ultimately leading to the killer coming out to pick off his victims one by one. By having Thomas Wright, who is also father to the films main character Jessica, decide not to close the store and become one of the leading causes of these deaths, the film once again shows the deadly effects of capitalist greed.

These critiques the film presents throughout add an interesting layer and perspective to the story the film is telling. This layer helps to elevate this gory slasher to a level above a fair amount of its contemporaries.

Other than this however, Thanksgiving also manages to deliver a genuinely scary thriller that alone would have been enough to make it a success. The cast all have moments to shine, whether or not that be whilst they’re being killed is dependent on the character. Arguably one of the films biggest stars, Addison Rae, does a decent job at delivering a convincing enough performance and also gives us some of the films best comedic one-liners. But it was the other major star of this movie, Patrick Dempsy, that really took the chance to shine here, giving a great performance in the role of the towns Sherriff and lead investigator in the case of the murders.

All in all, a strong argument could be made that Thanksgiving has the potential to be a new modern day, horror classic. The genuinely innovative and disturbing deaths allow for it to flourish as a gory slasher, and this, mixed with comedic beats and thought provoking critiques, means the film really gets its moment to stand out against a sea of other slashers we have been dealt in recent years. Thanksgiving knows the audience they are attempting to target, horror fans and lovers of fun kills and gore, and they easily mange to go above and beyond in cooking up a feast for these viewers. If that applies to you, you’re guaranteed an entertaining watch.

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