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Thankskilling Movie Review

Posted By Jason Thorson On November 23, 2009 @ 6:33 am In TV & Movies | No Comments

Available at Amazon.com

Thankskilling can’t be dubbed “critic proof” because its success is yet to be determined.  A more accurate term to describe Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey’s movie about a murderous turkey would be “anti-critic.”  This opinion is not lost on these two upstart filmmakers.  In fact, the following is an excerpt from the home page of Thankskillingmovie.com [1]:

“ThanksKilling promises nothing but a cheesy good time.  It’s the perfect cult film to watch with drinks around Halloween or especially during Thanksgiving!  Laugh at it because it’s funny.  Laugh at it because it’s bad.  It’s meant to be taken with a grain of salt.”

So where does that leave me?  Well, imagine the judges from American Idol are huddling in your bathroom listening to you shower.  When you’re finished Randy Jackson taps you on the shoulder and says that your singing sounded a bit pitchy.  Then Simon Cowell proclaims your performance to have been dreadful.  I guess I’ll be playing the role of Paula Abdul for the next few paragraphs.  In other words, I’ll be the superfluous know-it-all, unable to offer any substantive analysis whatsoever.  Honestly, none is required.  I know it and so do both Stewart and Downey, but I’ll try nonetheless.

The premise of this flick is pretty simple.  Way back when, a Native American had cursed a turkey and unleashed it on the pilgrims.  Reanimated by an unfortunately aimed stream of dog wee-wee, the homicidal turkey resumes his rampage after spending a few centuries in the ground.  Enter the five college kids driving home together for Thanksgiving break who happened to have vehicle issues.  Wouldn’t you know it?  They end up being hunted down by the turkey.  Can they stop the turkey before it kills them all?  Will the turkey take over the entire world?  Do vertical stripes make me appear slimmer?  Does anyone care?

Thankskilling is not a horror movie, horror-comedy, or any other horror-related subgenre.  It’s really set up as a full on comedy the results of which aren’t very funny, and mainly comprised of superficial and sometimes offensive silliness.  The enjoyable aspect of this is that while watching the movie it’s obvious how much fun the performers and crew are having making Thankskilling despite the purposeful ridiculousness of the material.  This alone is at least strangely, if not potently, entertaining. 

The film’s cast is largely comprised of young folks who’d had either zero, very little, or exclusively pornographic acting experience prior to shooting Thankskilling.  The results are predictably bad, but clearly there were no Oscar aspirations involved in the making of this film.  The characters are all generic slasher archetypes.  There’s the jock, the slut, the nerd, the regular guy (or large, but lovable redneck in this case) and the good girl.  These archetypes are alluded to as such, but that’s where the self-aware movie conceit stops, leaving several potential jokes to die on the vine.  

Thankskilling was shot in 2007.  It took eleven days and merely $3,500.00, not including the marketing and distribution costs.  This is serious DIY horror, made by fans rather than by honest-to-goodness moviemakers.  And as such, it deserves some credit merely for existing, which is what I believe to have been the foremost objective of the crew.  And they certainly didn’t let all that telling-a-story mumbo jumbo stand in the way of their goal.

Despite its innumerable flaws, Thankskilling is an admirable accomplishment from a technical standpoint.  Shot on HDV using a Canon HX-A1 camera, the picture looks fantastic and comparable to many films shot with a much bigger budget and by people with much more experience.  The movie was put together using Final Cut Pro and the soundscape was designed in Pro tools.  The end result is a great looking and impressive sounding movie which clearly indicates that Kevin Stewart, Jordan Downey, and their crew are talented and resourceful enough to put together a quality production.  And that’s why Thankskilling is almost as admirable as it is frustrating as hell.

Never before have I been asked to review a movie the makers of which insist is “meant to be taken with a grain of salt.”  How does one analyze something that rests on the laurels of merely “being”?  Honestly, I’d rather not be the Paula Abdul in Thankskilling’s bathroom.  And after seeing how this crew created a legitimate movie out of next to nothing, I couldn’t help but wonder how big a splash they may have made had they devoted some effort toward the material they shot. 

The best and most repeated advice I’ve ever heard is that a movie is only as good as its script, from multimillion dollar blockbusters to micro-budgeted guerrilla filmmaking abominations.  If the script is good, your movie will be good.  Period.  Filmmakers are storytellers much more than they are photographers.  It’s certainly possible to make what ends up becoming a cult movie using tasteless and ridiculous concepts and still tell a story.  In fact, I’d argue that it takes true genius to do so.  The Thankskilling crew won’t be invited to Mensa meetings any time soon, but they have shown the potential to contribute something worthwhile to the world of sick and depraved cinema in the future.

1 out of 5 Flames

Review by Jason Thorson

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