Netflix Slasher Thriller Is The Most Original Horror Story In Decades

By Robert Scucci | Published

Slasher films are known to follow a very specific formula, and Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving is no different from the slasher films that came before it. But within its formulaic structure, Thanksgiving needs to be put on a pedestal above its contemporaries because it is a surprisingly refreshing take on the concept of a lone, masked serial killer who’s out for blood in the small town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. That’s right, Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees need to step aside and make way for a new malicious menace on the block: John Carver. 

A Bloody Thanksgiving

Can you think of a name more fitting for a serial killer than John Carver? His primary means of executing his victims is built into his name, so you already know what’s going to go down. But in order to understand why Thanksgiving is such an instant classic, we need to get into the general story without spoiling it like the holiday leftovers that sit in the back of your fridge until the second week of December. 

Blame The Teens

Thanksgiving starts out at a Black Friday sale that goes terribly wrong at the local RightMart. The plot is set in motion when Jessica, whose father owns the store, lets her baseball-playing boyfriend, Bobby, and her classmates, Evan, Gaby, Scuba, and Yulia, into the store ahead of the eager-to-shop crowd. When the crowd breaches the doors, all hell breaks loose in the form of a riot that quickly takes the lives of several fervent shoppers, as well as the store manager’s wife. 

I Know What You Did Last Black Friday

Bobby, who has dreams of becoming a pro baseball player, suffers from a career-ending arm injury and disappears from the friend group until his sudden reappearance the following year, right before Thanksgiving. Though it may seem that Bobby has motivation to seek revenge for his injury, he’s just one of many suspects in this harrowing holiday horror film, as he wasn’t the only person affected by the riots.

Wearing one of the John Carver masks that town officials have been handing out to townsfolk in massive quantities to celebrate Thanksgiving, the mysterious killer systematically slaughters those who were involved in the Black Friday incident, focusing primarily on Jessica and her friends.

Embraces The Tropes

Having fun with all of the tried-and-true slasher tropes, Thanksgiving boasts the kind of wildly inventive cinematic violence that Eli Roth is known for, but in the context of a slasher film. Deviating from the usual kind of “torture porn” you’d see in films like Hostel, the kind of violence found in Thanksgiving involves quick kills with an axe, electric carving knives, broilers, and table saws. In addition to the egregious amounts of gore, John Carver torments his next victims by tagging them in a recurring social media post that includes the names of everybody he plans to execute.

Most importantly, Thanksgiving is actually a funny film. It knows it’s a slasher and has a level of self-awareness that makes for an incredibly enjoyable viewing experience.

Based On A Fake Trailer

The concept for Thanksgiving was originally hinted at in 2007’s Grindhouse, which featured a fake trailer for the movie. Roth wanted to take his time reworking the concept into a feature-length film that lived up to the hype that his fictional trailer presented, and we’re so glad that he did. Critics and audiences seem to be glad as well, as this slasher with all the trimmings is currently garnished with a critical score of 84 percent against an audience score of 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thanksgiving Was A Huge Hit

On the commercial front, Thanksgiving more than tripled its production budget by earning over $46 million at the global box office upon its release. If you know anything about slashers that are this well-received, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a sequel has already gotten the green light for a 2025 release.

Thanksgiving may very well become the next slasher franchise that takes over the genre for years to come. If you want to get in on the bottom floor, then it comes with strong recommendations that you check it out on Netflix before there are too many sequels to count.