When the economy turns south, budgets get tight.
When budgets get tight, Black Friday sales heat up.
And when sale items dwindle, tempers rise.
Add that all together and vigorously stir in, oh, a large angry crowd that was left pressed together and shivering out in the cold, and you’ve got a recipe for … well, it ain’t fruitcake.
Last year, the Thanksgiving night sale at the Plymouth, Massachusetts, RightMart became nothing less than a raging, bloody riot. Angry fights erupted. People ended up dead. Not only that, but the destruction and bloodletting was streamed to the internet, where it went viral.
In light of all that, the embarrassed people of Plymouth have decided to change their ways this year. They want a kinder, gentler holiday.
That, however, isn’t gonna happen.
You see, there was someone in the sweaty and painful swirl of last year’s heated shopping rampage who walked away with a glowing ember of rage smoldering in in their heart. So this year, that white-hot, wrath -filled participant has decided to don a mask of John Carver—the first governor of the new Plymouth colony—and to carve up a lot more than a turkey.
Flesh will be torn, limbs will be lopped, entrails will be spilled, and a bloody feast will grace the Thanksgiving table.
And she or he has no plans of going away hungry.
The central protagonist of this tale is a teen named Jess. She’s a relatively nice girl whom everyone likes. But her dad is seen as something of the villain behind the previous year’s riot because he opened his store on Thanksgiving rather than waiting until Black Friday morning. But he tries to be a good father. He approaches his daughter to apologize for his lack of attentiveness over the last year or so since Jess’ mom passed away.
Jess and her friends work diligently to protect one another from the killer at large. They all have their own flaws and weaknesses (including Jess), and they all make some foolish choices. But they try to do the right thing on the whole. Jess, in particular, puts herself in danger to help her friends. And her boyfriend, Bobby, fights back against the killer to save Jess.
We hear about a married woman who is having an affair and pregnant with the baby of her illicit lover.
Jess and her friends are all paired up in couples who are relaxed about their public displays of affection. We see them hug, kiss and caress one another. That goes for Jess, too. She kisses her boyfriend Bobby; but after they break up, she macks on a guy named Ryan.
One high school couple slips away for an intended sexual tyrst. And the guy watches as his pretty cheerleader gal bounces on a trampoline, removing her underwear and exposing her backside. But their time alone is, uh, cut short.
Jess’ gal pal Gabby tends to wear low-cut tops that expose cleavage. We see Jess in bed with someone. She gets up, wearing a skimpy tank top and panties.
A woman is tied up, leaving her legs and shoulders bare. She is later stripped down and killed. We see her naked corpse with her legs curled up, revealing her backside and thighs (key areas are blocked from view).
A guy in class lifts his shirt and exposes his extremely toned abs that two female classmates coo over. Someone mentions that a person drives a van that’s “preferred by pedophiles.”
This is a film with more gruesome kills in its mix then there are cranberries in the sauce. And they all tend to feature some hyperbolic form of grisly.
The opening RightMart riot, for instance, features crazed crowds; smashed doors and broken windows; slashed jugulars; crushed bodies; limbs viciously snapped and contorted; and a woman who’s knocked down has her hair and scalp slowly ripped free from her skull. And that’s the light end of the carnage.
After that, we see things such as a woman slashed and soaked and pushed up against frozen metal. Her flesh tears away from her face and hands; then she is literally crushed and ripped in half, her inner organs spilling out in a tangled mess.
Heads get lopped and yanked off, leaving the bodies to gush gore on the ground or floor. A man’s stomach is impaled by an electric turkey carver. People are crushed by vehicles. A man’s head is impaled and burst open on a stout pole. Someone is engulfed in a fiery explosion caused by a holiday float filled with flammable gas. People are hit or impaled by an ax, a large meat-tenderizing hammer and a pitchfork. A teen’s head is mushed by a hammer, for example, and then his brains are ladled out into a bowl.
People are shot and drugged. A guy’s head is snapped around backward. A teen girl jumps repeatedly on a trampoline and the protruding knife blade beneath it. Another girl has corn cob holders driven into her ears; then her abdomen is ripped open so that her goopy entrails hang free.
A woman is coated with butter and seasonings and put in a large oven to roast. We stay with her as the process begins. Then, later, her fully roasted body is carved like a prize turkey.
Along with its copious slayings, Thanksgiving is packed to the brim with vulgar expletives. There are somewhere close to 130 f-words and a dozen s-words garnished by fistfuls the words “h—,” “a–hole” and “b–ch.”
God’s and Jesus’ names are abused more than 20 times total (including a dozen or so pairings with other profanities). Crude references are made to the male anatomy. Several people make offensive hand gestures.
A high school guy offers prescription meds to a friend and buys Adderall from someone else. Teens drink at a party. An older twentysomething makes his money by selling alcohol and guns to high school students. He also smokes.
The killer shoots a few people with knockout darts so that he can capture them alive.
Several people vomit toward the camera. One guy regurgitates on himself. Teens act rebelliously, driving recklessly over sidewalks and through a crowd and then parking in a handicap space.
A teen buys an assigned paper from another student, only to find later that it was something that the teacher wrote herself.
If you’re looking for family friendly holiday fare … this isn’t it!
Yes, in the midst of the sugar-glazed gore and gruesome jump scares, viewers will definitely get the inkling that there’s a creative irreverence behind it all—something that director Eli Roth is known for. But this graphic cinematic recipe is designed for those with a very specific appetite for effusively profane torture porn. It’s not a movie meal for the weak of heart or stomach.
If, however, fevered slasher pics aren’t your cup of muck, you could always opt for another slice of pie and something festive on the telly.
I mean, it’s Thanksgiving, after all.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.