Home News Thanksgiving’s ending explained| Eli Roth’s new slasher film

Thanksgiving’s ending explained| Eli Roth’s new slasher film

Tristar Pictures
Image @Tristar Pictures

The 2007 film Grindhouse by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino contained several fake B-movie trailers made by famous genre directors. Two of these trailers – Rodriguez’s Machete and Eisener, Davies, and Cotterill’s Hobo With a Shotgun – were later expanded into real full-length movies in the 16 years after Grindhouse came out. So some of the fake grindhouse-style previews in the original film ended up sparking real feature films.

Eli Roth, known for directing extremely violent horror films like Cabin Fever and Hostel, has now made one of the fake trailer segments from Grindhouse into a real movie. His trailer was for a film called Thanksgiving, and he has turned it into a full-length feature that was released in theaters on November 17, 2023.

Roth often finds creative ways to disturb audiences with his films, and Thanksgiving looks to deliver on that same goal. He said he wanted to fill the void of not having enough horror movies come out in November, so Thanksgiving aims to bring the Halloween spirit into the next month. Overall, Roth has taken his fake Grindhouse trailer and made it a real slasher film in theaters.


Thanksgiving pays homage to classic holiday slasher films like Black Christmas and Halloween. It centers on a serial killer dressed as Pilgrim John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony. After a deadly Black Friday riot at a superstore called Right Mart in Plymouth, Massachusetts – the home of the first Thanksgiving – the killer embarks on a murder spree against the town residents he deems responsible. The next Thanksgiving after the riots, John Carver sets out to make a gory “festive table spread” out of his targets.

These targets include the Right Mart owner Thomas Wright, his new wife Kathleen, his daughter Jessica, and her friends. They must uncover the killer’s identity before becoming victims themselves, leading to a twisty whodunnit conclusion. Overall, the film brings a violent slasher story to the Pilgrim origins of Thanksgiving in Plymouth.

Thanksgiving 2023 trailer

What is the plot of Thanksgiving 2023?

In the film, after the killer John Carver, has gruesomely murdered several townspeople, Jessica Wright comes up with a plan to lure him out during Plymouth’s Thanksgiving parade by using herself and her family as bait.

However, this backfires when Carver dresses as a clown in the parade, then drugs and kidnaps Jessica, her father Thomas, her stepmother Kathleen, and Jessica’s friend Scuba. Carver takes them to his hideout, where he already has two other friends of Jessica’s captured – Gabby and Evan. He then proceeds to cook and carve up Kathleen like a Thanksgiving turkey.

So Jessica’s trap fails, and the killer captures her whole family and friends before gruesomely killing and cooking her stepmother. The plot builds to a bloody confrontation with the costumed Carver at his secret lair.

With the other hostages tied up around his table, Carver brutally kills Evan by smashing his head with a meat tenderizer. He then carves up the cooked Kathleen and livestreams the horrific scene online. But Jessica is able to cut through her bonds using a bladed ring given to her earlier by a character named McCarty. She passes the ring to Scuba, and they escape, although Scuba is injured by Carver’s ax, and Jessica twists her ankle jumping a fence.

Jessica limps to the parade warehouse, finding the Sheriff unconscious. She then sees her ex-boyfriend Bobby fleeing inside. So, after gruesomely killing and cooking two victims at his lair, Carver’s remaining hostages manage to escape, leading to a confrontation in the warehouse with Jessica’s ex, who seems suspicious.

Believing Bobby is the killer, Jessica helps the revived Sheriff Newlon alert the other police. They set up in the warehouse, where the Sheriff shows Jessica evidence implicating Bobby. When the Sheriff moves to exit and leaves Jessica alone, she notices he has the same brambles on his pants from the woods near the killer’s lair.

Jessica realizes the Sheriff is actually the real killer. He launches into a sinister confession that he wants revenge on the people responsible for getting his secret pregnant lover Amanda killed in the riots. But Jessica has been livestreaming his confession to expose him.

Jessica flees into the warehouse, where Bobby reappears to help her. They inflate a giant parade balloon turkey using flammable gas. As the Sheriff pursues them, Jessica ignites the turkey with a shotgun blast, making it explode into flames around the Sheriff.

So, in a climactic confrontation, the real killer is revealed to be the Sheriff, but Jessica outsmarts him, exposing his confession and blowing him up using the parade props.

After the warehouse explosion, the police find no remains of the Sheriff and assume he was completely burned up. But Jessica seems uncertain. That night after reuniting with her dad, friends, and boyfriend Ryan, she dreams of hearing the killer in her closet before being attacked by Carver in a fiery blaze.

Jessica wakes up unharmed, but the ending leaves things open for a potential sequel, suggesting the Thanksgiving killer could still return to terrorize her again.

So, while the police believe the Sheriff/killer is dead after the blast, Jessica’s ominous dream implies Carver may have survived, allowing for a possible next installment with the holiday slasher still at large.

The cast of Thanksgiving

  • Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy, Bridget Jones’s Baby) as Sheriff Eric Newlon
  • Nell Verlaque (Reacher) as Jessica Wright
  • Addison Rae (He’s All That) as Gabby
  • Jalen Thomas Brooks as Bobby
  • Milo Manheim (Zombies, Doogie Kameāloha) as Ryan
  • Rick Hoffman (Suits) as Thomas Wright
  • Gina Gershon (Showgirls, Riverdale) as Amanda Collins
  • Tomaso Sanelli as Evan
  • Gabriel Davenport as Scuba
  • Jenna Warren as Yulia
  • Karen Cliche (Flashpoint) as Kathleen
  • Ty Olsson (Supernatural) as Mitch Collins
  • Shailyn Griffin as Amy
  • Derek McGrath (Designated Survivor) as Mayor Cantin
  • Mika Amonsen as Lonnie
  • Lynne Griffin as Grandma
  • Tim Dillon (The Tim Dillon Show)
  • Chris Sandiford as Doug

Thanksgiving filming location

The main filming for Thanksgiving occurred in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada over the period of March 13 to May 5, 2023.

Thanksgiving reviews

In his Variety review, Owen Gleiberman wrote that Thanksgiving follows the conventions of slasher films, but has a more exaggerated and entertainingly over-the-top atmosphere than older movies in the genre.

Frank Scheck’s positive review concluded that, at times, Thanksgiving seems to be trying too hard to achieve cult status that it likely won’t reach. However, he predicted the film would probably become a Thanksgiving staple rerun on cable channels and streaming services for years.

Is Thanksgiving on Netflix?

The movie was released on November 17, 2023, in theaters in the United States. It would be on Netflix after 45 days of its theatrical release, as per the Sony-Netflix deal.


If you like watching Slasher films, Thanksgiving is for you. Watch Thanksgiving in your nearest theater with the Fandango and Cinemark app. You can also wait for the movie’s digital release on Netflix or Peacock in the US.