#136 - Thanksgiving (2023) - A Faux Trailer that Excites, but a Film that Falls Short

#136 - Thanksgiving (2023) - A Faux Trailer that Excites, but a Film that Falls Short

The Thanksgiving Horror Flick that Failed to Deliver

Thanksgiving, a once highly anticipated horror film, generated immense excitement through its captivating and gruesome trailer in Tarantino & Rodriguez's Grindhouse . However, as viewers flocked to the theaters, they were met with a lackluster film that failed to live up to the promises of its trailer. They were expecting to see the grain, the cigarette burns, and a setting that captured the essence of the horror movies from the past. But to everyone's surprise, the movie was set in modern times and had a clean and polished look. There were no signs of the grain or the cigarette burns that they had anticipated. This unexpected twist caught the everyone off guard and made them realize that this film was truly unique in its own way.

This podcast explores the disappointment and missed opportunities of Thanksgiving, delving into the reasons behind its downfall. From the lack of violence to the missed chance for campy hilarity, join us as we unravel the discrepancy between the highly anticipated trailer and the lackluster reality of Thanksgiving by Eli Roth.

A Blast from the Past: Thanksgiving by Eli Roth and Jeff Rendell

This podcast delves into the thrilling world of Thanksgiving, a film brought to life by the creative minds of Eli Roth and his childhood best friend, Jeff Rendell. Growing up amidst the holiday-themed horror films of the '70s and '80s, Eli and Jeff dreamt of crafting their own tribute to Thanksgiving. What started as a fake trailer for the Grindhouse double feature now stands as a full-length film that promises to terrify and entertain.

Unveiling Childhood Inspirations and Dreams:

Eli Roth and Jeff Rendell's childhood in Massachusetts shaped their fascination with Thanksgiving and horror films associated with holidays. From classics like Black Christmas to Halloween, the duo longed to create their own sinister thrill ride centered around the Thanksgiving season. It was friend and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino who offered Eli the opportunity to fashion a fake trailer for the Grindhouse double feature, an invitation the duo embraced without hesitation. Armed with their meticulously planned kills, Eli and Jeff set the stage for the birth of something remarkable.

Taking a Leap from Trailer to Feature-Length Film

Now, after 16 years of incubation, the Thanksgiving trailer has evolved into a full-length feature film that eagerly awaits audiences this holiday season. Eli Roth and Jeff Rendell's passion project has come to fruition, ready to lure viewers into a horrifying and adrenaline-filled experience. This Thanksgiving, invite your loved ones to embark on a journey of fright and delight as this longstanding dream finally takes shape on the silver screen.

When it comes to the inspiration behind this horror movie, teamwork played a big role. And interestingly enough, one of the inspirations for this film was the iconic 1978 film "Halloween" by John Carpenter. The aesthetic, camera angles, POV shots, and even the knife all paid homage to this popular American slasher film.

Eli Roth's Lackluster Directing Skills

As a director, Roth has struggled to replicate the success of his early works. Many of his later films have fallen flat, leaving audiences underwhelmed and disappointed. It's almost as if he's trying too hard to be cool and edgy, but it just comes off as forced and unnatural.

One major issue with Roth's films is his writing style, especially when it comes to how teenagers speak. It's clear that he's out of touch with the current slang and mannerisms of young people. Even the kids in his movies, who are supposed to represent the target audience, don't sound authentic. It's cringe-worthy and takes away from the overall experience.

The Lack of Likable Characters in Eli Roth's Movies and the Importance of Character Development

When watching a movie, one of the most important aspects is being able to connect and root for the characters. However, in Eli Roth's movies, this seems to be a recurring issue. It's hard to find someone to truly care about. In movies like Hostel, for example, we are presented with a group of characters who are nothing more than a bunch of creepy and despicable individuals. It's no wonder that when they meet their gruesome fate, it's hard to muster any sympathy or even feel invested in their story.

Character development is a crucial aspect of any story, regardless of its genre. It is what allows us, as the audience, to truly engage with the narrative and form a connection with the characters. Without well-developed characters, it becomes challenging for us to invest in their journey or care about their outcomes.

In movies like Audition, where the plot takes unexpected twists and turns, it is the character development that makes those moments feel earned. We follow the main character, who may not be perfect, but is sympathetic, and we understand his motivations and desires. We see his internal struggle when faced with a complex situation and can empathize with his choices. This is what makes intense and graphic scenes even more impactful, as we have grown to love and root for these characters. It is in the lead-up, the gradual development of the protagonist, that we find the true essence of the story.

Comparing Eli Roth's movies to other successful horror films, such as Scream, highlights just how important likable and relatable characters are. In Scream, we have a group of characters who we want to escape their horrific situation. We cheer for them to overcome the ghostface killer and want them to succeed. This is in stark contrast to Roth's movies, where we simply don't care whether the characters live or die. It's more fun and shocking to root for someone and experience the emotional impact when we see a character we care about meet their untimely demise. Eli Roth should take note and focus on creating more likable and sympathetic characters in his films.

The Disappointment of the Feature Length Film

From the conversations and interviews surrounding the movie "Thanksgiving," it seems like the trailer generated much more excitement than the actual film itself. There was a sense of anticipation and expectation for a campy, hilarious slasher film in the style of classics like "Silent Night, Deadly Night 2." However, the feature length film didn't quite deliver on those expectations.

Missing the Campiness and Hilarity

The trailer for "Thanksgiving" had a perfect balance of campiness and humor that had viewers excited for what was to come. Lines like "all will be carved" and the turkey puppet scene were both horrifying and funny at the same time. But unfortunately, the movie didn't fully embrace this campy route. Perhaps the director, in his serious directorial approach, may have felt that camp wasn't something he wanted to pursue anymore. But as a viewer, I can't help but feel that the film missed an opportunity to fully embrace its comedic potential.

The Lack of Violence: A Disappointing Move

When it comes to horror movies, we often expect a certain level of violence and gore. It's what adds to the thrill and excitement of the genre. So, naturally, when a movie like Thanksgiving doesn't deliver on that front, it can be quite disappointing. That's exactly how I felt. As a fan of slasher films, I was looking forward to some thrilling and gruesome scenes. However, Thanksgiving fell short in that aspect. It felt more like a fun, brainless movie that you watch just to pass the time. While I wasn't expecting it to be an Oscar winner, I still hoped for some intense and unsettling moments that would have made it stand out. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

The Aesthetic Letdown

Apart from the lack of violence, another aspect that was bothersome was the aesthetic of the movie. The bookends of the film, the title sequence, and the end credits sequence had that classic grindhouse feel that initially inspired the creation of this movie. But when it came to the actual film, it was set in modern times and had a clean and contemporary look. There was something lost in translation. It just didn't have the same vibe and appeal that fans of the inital trailer were hoping for. Shooting the movie on actual film, changing the aesthetic, could have made a significant difference. It would have captured that retro and gritty feel that defined the original concept of Thanksgiving. Eli Roth, the director, is no stranger to success and has the resources to make such a decision, but it seems like he was more focused on making a commercially viable film rather than a memorable one. Taking risks is what often leads to the success of horror films, and in this case, it was a missed opportunity.

Final Thoughts

While Eli Roth may have had a strong start to his career with movies like "Cabin Fever" and "Hostel," his subsequent films have been disappointing. He seems to struggle with finding his footing as a director and his writing often falls flat, particularly when it comes to capturing the voice of young characters. It's a shame, because it's clear that Roth has a passion for horror, but perhaps he should consider collaborating with other talented individuals who can help bring his vision to life.