There’s a horror movie to commemorate every holiday. Halloween heads the list, followed by Christmas (Santa Claus vampires?), but no tradition remains unscathed (brain-eating zombies on Valentine’s Day). It’s inevitable that the hacks would eventually get around to Thanksgiving. And so this year the turkeys are not all on the table.
THANKSGIVING (0/4 stars)
Eli Roth, the second-rate director (Cabin Fever) and sometime actor (very good in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds), offers up enough blood and vomit to make you surrender your calorie consumption in a vile and nauseous exercise in murder and mayhem called—what else?—Thanksgiving.
A long and repetitive prologue shows a Walmart-style shopping mall store in Plymouth, Mass., being attacked by a screaming mob of rioters on a rampage, slaughtering each other for a free waffle iron. Cut to one year later. Now, a serial killer is on the loose, brutally disposing of the survivors. Chief among the victims is the daughter of the store’s owner and her five best friends, who got in ahead of the angry rioters before the store opened that fatal night because they sneaked in through the employee entrance. One by one, they meet a fate only slightly worse than reading the moronic script written by director Roth with the assistance of Jeff Rendell.
The movie is about the myriad ways everyone meets death at the hands of the mystery killer, and the single thread of suspense revolves around the identity of the killer, who stages a new massacre disguised in a pilgrim costume, wearing the mask of John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth colony and the man who invented Thanksgiving. No originality and no thrills but enough stomach-churning gore to keep the scaremongers happy. Between the monosyllabic dialogue that consists of few words with more than four letters, a car cuts one woman in half, heads are ripped out of their sockets and placed on the Thanksgiving table on serving platters, a torso is thrown into an electric saw, and a scantily-clad cheerleader hops up and down on a trampoline, landing in her most gullible places on sharp daggers that rip her to the size of chicken tenders.
None of it makes much sense, but it does lead to an agonizing finale during a feeble Thanksgiving Day parade with half the Plymouth population wearing the same John Carver mask. If you don’t guess who the killer is from the first scene, then you haven’t seen many of the B movies that pollute the scene today, strike or no strike. Despite the appearance of such veterans as Gina Gershon and Patrick Dempsey, the acting is uniformly mediocre, the really bad and intrusive pop music only prolongs the agony, and nobody in this miserable Thanksgiving ever eats so much as a single cranberry. It’s as scary as a pumpkin pie left in the oven too long. Instead of horror, it’s pretty funny.
The line from the ads and most often repeated on the screen is “No leftovers”. That’s what you think.