Every year at the end of November us Americans like to sequester ourselves away with our extended family for a day and eat turkey and pie until we are almost incapable of moving. You know what is a great family activity that requires almost no movement? Watching horror movies! That being said, even if this is one of the only titles that is implicitly linked to the holiday, we probably can’t recommend it for family watching. ThanksKilling is Jordan Downey’s ultra low budget and ultra low brow autumnal slasher. Keep reading past the break to find out what we can recommend it for.
Reviewed by: Mark
Five hundred and five years ago a Native American necromancer cursed a turkey to become murderous and slaughter anyone who enters into his woods. The film opens with a scene of a pilgrim lady (Wanda Lust) running around with her boobs out before the turkey kills her. Why is she topless? Unclear. Now, in the current day a hermit’s dog pees on the turkey’s totem, resurrecting him. From here, the turkey basically just goes on a rampage for the rest of the film.
Meanwhile, a group of college aged youths are on a trip home for the Thanksgiving holiday. They’re your typical ragtag bunch including a nerd, a jock, a sidekick, a slut, and another girl. They cross the turkey’s path and suffer his ensuing wrath. Once their numbers have dwindled sufficiently they dump the turkey into some hazardous waste and presume it dead. The now radioactive turkey then makes yet another attack on the group before he is finally dispatched via lighter + aerosolized hairspray. Happy Thanksgiving.
What the Movie Does Right
Let’s make no bones about it. This is a bad movie, and it isn’t trying to pretend to be a good movie. It’s going for that B-movie vibe that so many other movies try for and generally fail miserably. To the movie’s credit, it does land in that realm for quite a few people. It has developed a cult following wherein even most of my non-horror-loving friends are aware that it exists. At the point where these friends of mine are aware of ThanksKilling and not the likes of The Conjuring or Get Out, I feel like that has to count as a win. None of this is hurt by the fact that is basically the only Thanksgiving themed content out there.
It’s also worth mentioning that parts of this movie actually are funny. The writing is super cringe-worthy, but they do stumble bass ackwards into a funny joke a few different times. Combine that with a little bit of slapstick humor, stir in some incredibly bad puns, and you get something that is almost watchable some of the time. For the record, that’s exactly the recipe you want for a so-bad-it’s-good viewing experience.
What the Movie Does Wrong
Essentially everything. We say all the time on our podcast (that you should totally be listening to and rating 5 stars) that if you set out to make a bad movie, and you succeed, then you still made a bad movie. That’s what makes these so-bad-it’s-good movies so hard to talk about and review. People who will jump to the movie’s defense will simply respond to any complaint with “yeah, but they did that on purpose…” as though that were some type of excuse. Well here are the things that this movie did on purpose: bad writing that is honestly pretty offensive if taken at face value (Native American necromancers? Really?), terribly stiff acting, cheesy special effects, and surprisingly slow pacing despite its 70 minute runtime. Good job team, you successfully made a bad movie intentionally.
Story:1.5 - The story here is garbage. The characters barely interact with each other, no one makes logical choices, most of the story is delivered via text dump to start the movie, and the script falls apart as soon as you apply any amount of scrutiny to it.
World-Building / Immersion: 1.5 - It gets a small amount of credit for the one or two times it made me chuckle. Everything else is insultingly bad. Nothing is ever explained and it showcases one of the worst editing performances in the history of film. It also feels like its too long despite the fact that it’s the shortest movie we’ve reviewed for this site.
Scare-Factor: 1.5 - There’s blood and guts here that could disturb some very sensitive people. I don’t think this movie was ever intended to be scary.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 1 - This is probably a little low, but to be frank with you I had framed all of my ratings in the context of what I gave Poultrygeist and this is the sole category where I felt like this movie did worse. Sure, there are a lot of effects, but none of them actually look good. Jack liked the tongue biting scene but outside of that I struggle to come up with anything laudable. Beyond that, the overall movie is so bad that the effects themselves aren’t in service of anything helpful to the viewing experience. Hey, speaking of overall...
Overall: 1.5 - This movie is bad, and should only be viewed under the context of getting hambones with your friends and relentlessly lambasting this thing during the Thanksgiving weekend.