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The Best Slasher of 2023 Is Finally Streaming on Netflix

“There will be no leftovers!”

Thanksgiving movie
TriStar Pictures
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When it comes to scary movies, there’s Halloween and then there’s everything else. Nothing will ever surpass John Carpenter’s genre-defining horror classic, but the holiday itself also holds a singular sway over the horror pantheon. There are plenty of scary movies set during Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and various other holidays, but nothing beats an October 31st thriller. Until now.

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, which premiered in time for Turkey Day 2023, recently made its Netflix debut and quickly skyrocketed to the Top 10. The autumnal horror movie is worth watching, even in February, because it pushes the entire genre forward while establishing Thanksgiving as the scariest day of the year.

From gore auteur Eli Roth, Thanksgiving is the culmination of a decades-long dream. In an interview with The New York Times, Roth revealed that, as a child, he dreamed of making a horror movie to fill the void after Halloween. In 2007, he put that idea to good use in a fake trailer sandwiched between exploitation films by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez in the box office flop Grindhouse.

Almost two decades later, that fake trailer for a horror movie set on Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, somehow became a real movie. Miraculously, it’s also a damn good one.

A still from Eli Roth’s 2007 Thanksgiving “trailer” featured in Grindhouse.

Dimension Films

“We wanted to get it right. We couldn’t crack the story,” Roth told the Times. “The fun thing about doing a fake trailer is that you get to do the best parts of the movie and nothing has to make sense. For years we were thinking, why would someone dress like a pilgrim and go on a killing spree? How do you go from one kill to another without it feeling like a 90-minute version of the trailer?”

Thanksgiving’s answer is to open with a Black Friday massacre at Plymouth’s local megastore. After a group of teenagers sneak into the store early and enrage the crowd outside, the shopping holiday devolves into chaos, leading to multiple deaths as bloodthirsty locals fight over waffle makers. The teens survive, and one films the entire ordeal, which quickly goes viral online despite his best attempts to delete the video.

One year later, the town prepares to move on and celebrate Thanksgiving, until a serial killer dressed as Plymouth’s pilgrim founder goes on a vengeance-fueled murder spree.

Thanksgiving pulls off some impressively gruesome deaths.

TriStar Pictures

From this bloody beginning, Thanksgiving plays out like a taught slasher as the killer racks up murder victims. If you’re squeamish, this is not the movie for you. Eli Roth finds creative and gruesome ways to off each victim, from a trampoline incident he first dreamed up for the 2007 trailer to an extremely creative use for corncob holders.

Most impressively, Thanksgiving achieves a perfect blend of legitimate horror and winking parody that few other movies ever manage, all of which culminates in the perfect delivery of the line, “There will be no leftovers!” The comparisons to Scream are plentiful, from the teenage victims who know too much about scary movies for their own good to the villain as focused on legacy as revenge.

Thanksgiving leans heavily on its cast of self-aware high school teens.

TriStar Pictures

“It’s a post-Scream world,” Roth told Variety. “The kids have to understand what a horror movie is, and they have to make smart decisions thinking that they’re outsmarting the killer, but the killer’s 10 steps ahead of them.”

It all adds up to one of the best slashers in recent memory from a horror master at the top of his game. So while you could hold off and save Thanksgiving for a wickedly festive watch this November, there’s no reason to wait. Go ahead and give thanks that this instant horror classic is finally on Netflix.

Thanksgiving is streaming on Netflix.

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