'Thanksgiving' Ending Explained: Blood, Turkeys, Twists and Sequel Mysteries


From its humble origins as a fake trailer nestled within Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse(2007), Thanksgiving has evolved into a bona fide cinematic experience. Fans of Eli Roth have been salivating for this moment for 16 long years. The buzz surrounding this holiday-centric slasher is akin to the excitement of a Thanksgiving Day parade, but with a decidedly darker twist.

Thanksgiving marks a triumphant return to the visceral and unsettling style that first propelled him into the horror spotlight. Known for his work on gruesome gems like Hostel and Cabin Fever, Roth's departure into family-friendly fare with films like The House With A Clock In Its Walls was a surprising detour. Now, he's back to serve up a dish that's more blood and guts than whimsy and wonder.

While Halloween and Christmas have long been playgrounds for horror filmmakers, Thanksgiving has languished in the shadows. Roth's Thanksgiving aims to change that, injecting terror into a holiday typically associated with turkey, stuffing, and gratitude. Move over, Michael Myers; there's a new slasher in town, and he's serving up scares alongside the cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving's Origin: A Trailer Turned Terrifying Reality

Let's rewind the clock to a time when Thanksgiving existed only in the realm of clever concepts and fake trailers.

It all began with a fake trailer showcased Grindhouse. Thanksgiving, initially just a tantalizing glimpse, teased audiences with the promise of holiday horror. Thanksgiving's underwent its own horror metamorphosis.

The finished product, while rooted in the essence of the original trailer, emerged as a more straightforward slasher film. Unlike the trailer's self-parodying goofiness, the film maintains a subtler humor, delivering the twisted tale in a more direct and chilling fashion.

While Thanksgiving shed its trailer's period-piece veneer, it retained the tongue-in-cheek plot that fans had come to expect. The humor, though subtler, serves as a nod to the exploitation movies of the '70s, paying homage to the genre's roots. Eli Roth ensures that, despite the evolution, Thanksgiving remains true to its Grindhouse beginnings.

A Town Haunted by Black Friday

In Thanksgiving, Plymouth, Massachusetts emerges as a quaint town forever changed by an act of violence. Our story unfolds exactly one year after a Black Friday sale at a local superstore spiraled into chaos, leaving the community traumatized.

Black Friday Riots in a Store - Thanksgiving - Sony Pictures Entertainment
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

As the turkey-scented air hung heavy with anticipation, the Black Friday crowd, driven by deals and discounts, descended into madness. The chaos claimed three lives, including the wife of the store manager, Mitch. The riot unfolded in classic Roth fashion – bloody and unforgiving. Cell phone footage went viral, but justice remained elusive as security cameras conveniently malfunctioned that night.

Fast forward to the present, and a chilling presence looms over Plymouth. A mysterious figure, known only as "John Carver," emerges on social media, stirring unrest among the survivors. Reminiscent of the Ghostface killers in the Scream movies, Carver conceals their identity behind a mask.

The town's Sheriff Newlon, begins to unravel the threads of this Thanksgiving mystery, declaring that "Thanksgiving is an institution" that demands protection.

The Faceless Menace of John Carver

John Carver is a name etched in the town's collective fear. Like a sinister puppet master, Carver orchestrates a macabre show on social media, documenting gruesome murders that echo the chaos of the Black Friday riot. He's like a modern-day boogeyman, hiding behind a mask and leaving a trail of terror. It's a twisted game, reminiscent of horror classics, with each post sending shivers down the spines of the community.

Sheriff Newlon, played by none other than Patrick Dempsey, steps into the spotlight. He's not just there to maintain law and order; he's on a mission to unmask the menace threatening Thanksgiving.

Killer wearing Mask - Thanksgiving - Sony Pictures Entertainment
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

With the stakes high and the body count rising, Newlon becomes the town's reluctant hero, determined to protect the sacred institution that is Thanksgiving. But little does he know, the shadows hold secrets that even a seasoned sheriff might struggle to comprehend.

Our heroine, Jessica, played by Nell Verlaque, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of Carver's deadly game. As the body count rises, Jessica's past connections to the Black Friday riot become the focal point of Carver's twisted revenge.

Suspicion lingers in the air, and Jessica finds herself at the center of a chilling whodunit. Initially pointing fingers at her new boyfriend, Ryan, and the mysteriously absent ex, Bobby, Jessica's growing realization hints at a deeper, more personal vendetta.

Twist in the Tale: The Unexpected Villain

Jessica manages a daring escape from the clutches of the killer, leaving behind her father and friends. The twist? Bobby, her ex-boyfriend, wearing the killer's mask, becomes the prime suspect.

Panic sets in, and Jessica, convinced she's exposed the true murderer, calls in the cavalry to nab Bobby. It's a heart-stopping moment, but the real shocker is just around the corner.

Sheriff Newlon - Thanksgiving - Sony Pictures Entertainment
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

In a jaw-dropping revelation, it's not Bobby behind the mask but Sheriff Newlon himself. Imagine the betrayal, the disbelief, as Jessica confronts the man entrusted with protecting the town. Stickers on his pants, just like the killer's, become the smoking gun. The sheriff, the very symbol of law and order, is the puppeteer orchestrating the Thanksgiving massacre.

Why? Well, Sheriff Newlon lays bare his motivations in a chilling confession. The Black Friday riot was more than a tragic event; it was personal.

Newlon's Motives

Sheriff Newlon, the supposed protector of Plymouth, was the puppet master all along, and his motives go deeper than the slash of a killer's knife.

Black Friday Newspapers on Wall - Thanksgiving - Sony Pictures Entertainment
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Newlon had a clandestine affair with Amanda, the wife of a store worker named Mitch. As the Black Friday riot unfolded, Amanda met a gruesome end, and the blame, according to Newlon, rested squarely on Jessica's shoulders. The guilt-ridden daughter of the store owner became the scapegoat for a crime she didn't commit.

Newlon's twisted sense of justice fueled a quest for vengeance. In his eyes, Amanda's death during the Black Friday stampede was a crime that needed retribution. What adds an even darker layer to the plot is the revelation that Amanda was pregnant with Newlon's child. The sheriff's quest for justice becomes a personal vendetta, intertwining with the town's gruesome history.

And thus, Newlon, far from seeking justice, became the instigator of the Thanksgiving massacre. His quest for revenge against Jessica and her family, wrapped in a web of lies and betrayal, turns the holiday of gratitude into a blood-soaked spectacle.

Jessica's Clever Move: Turning the Tables on Newlon

Earlier in the movie, Sheriff Newlon, in a misguided attempt to misdirect Jessica, advised her to be vigilant and look for subtle details to expose the killer. Little did he know that this advice would come back to haunt him.

In a delicious twist of irony, Jessica uses Newlon's own guidance against him, spotting the stickers on his pants – a detail he failed to erase after donning the killer's mask.

In a move that would make even the most seasoned detectives proud, Jessica engages Newlon in a conversation, all the while live-streaming the confession on social media. As Newlon spills the dark secrets behind the Thanksgiving massacre, little does he know that the eyes of the town, and perhaps the world, are watching his every word.

Newlon, once the voice of authority, finds himself ensnared in a web of his own making. As Jessica reveals her strategic live-streaming move, the sheriff's shock and realization paint a vivid picture of his imminent downfall.

The very technology he tried to manipulate for his own purposes becomes the tool of his undoing.

Unexpected Love Triangle

On one side, we have Ryan, the seemingly sweet boyfriend who steps in after Bobby's mysterious departure. On the other, there's Bobby, the ex-boyfriend who resurfaces just as the town is plunged into chaos. It's a classic love triangle, and Jessica, our Final Girl, finds herself torn between the familiarity of the past and the stability of the present.

But Thanksgiving doesn't just play by the slasher rulebook. Jessica, instead of rekindling things with the ex, chooses the stability of her current relationship.

Jessica and Ryan - Thanksgiving - Sony Pictures Entertainment
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Jessica decides to stick with Ryan. It's not the ex who wins her heart but the seemingly more stable and supportive current boyfriend. Thanksgiving, in its unpredictable nature, throws a curveball at the conventional love triangle, leaving audiences both shocked and delighted.

Unresolved Ending: Sheriff Newlon's Fate & Sequel Mysteries

Despite the fiery climax, Sheriff Newlon's fate remains shrouded in ambiguity. No burnt sheriff's hat, no conclusive evidence of his demise—just uncertainty. It's like the movie decided to add a dollop of suspense to our horror feast, leaving us wondering if Newlon emerged from the ashes unscathed.

If horror movies have taught us anything, it's that when you don't see the body, anything is possible. The lack of closure on Newlon's fate opens the door to a spine-chilling possibility—the sheriff may have survived the inferno. Cue the goosebumps as we ponder the implications of a potentially unscathed Newlon plotting his next move in the shadows.

But wait, there's more: Thanksgiving concludes with Jessica, our resilient Final Girl, having a nightmare that suggests the horror isn't over. In her dream, Carver is still on the prowl, a chilling reminder that the masked menace might have a sequel-worthy encore up his blood-stained sleeve.

Poster - Thanksgiving - Sony Pictures Entertainment
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Thanksgiving leaves the door wide open for a potential Thanksgiving 2, promising more scares and unanswered questions.

Thanksgiving's Dark Satire: A Feast of Rich and Bloody Vengeance

Thanksgiving, in its twisted brilliance, takes aim at the very fabric of American culture. Roth's lens doesn't shy away from probing the themes of consumerism, colonialism, and historical satire. It's about the blood-soaked turkey and a commentary on the darker aspects of our past and present, served with a side of horror.

Sheriff Newlon is donned in the guise of a historical pilgrim. The symbolism is as rich as Grandma's pumpkin pie. Newlon, embodying the dark history of Plymouth, seeks bloody vengeance on the wealthy, echoing the unsettling history of Thanksgiving itself.

But the horror doesn't dissipate with the closing credits. Thanksgiving's ending lingers with a threat, a sense that the rich and powerful may have escaped the gruesome justice served by Carver, but the specter of bloody vengeance still hovers.

Wrap Up

Thanksgiving was a passion project brewing for 16 years. Roth returned to his roots, and delivered a gruesome tale that horror aficionados had been craving. From the fake trailer in Grindhouse to a real, gory spectacle, Thanksgiving is a testament to Roth's dedication to the craft.

Thanksgiving stands out like a crimson-drenched centerpiece. It's not your typical festive fare; instead, it's a gory and twisted addition to the genre, taking its place alongside classics like Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The film manages to blend satire, slasher, and suspense into a cinematic concoction that leaves us simultaneously cringing and craving more.

'Thanksgiving' Ending Explained Blood, Turkeys, Twists and Sequel Mysteries

Author: Ted Lasso

Author/Writer - Ted Lasso

Meet Ted Lasso, a Bachelor of Arts graduate with a unique passion for the world of Entertainment. With an innate talent for capturing the essence of TV shows & Movies, he crafts engaging articles, covering everything from latest Entertainment news to in-depth Fan theories. Ted's love for storytelling through the lens of Cinema and TV makes him a captivating voice in the world of entertainment journalism, ensuring you'll always have something exciting to watch next.

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