Lisa-Marie Taft is known for being uncompromisingly difficult to be around with her snarky comments and negative attitude. She’s especially coarse when she has to spend her Thanksgiving holiday working tables at the restaurant, one of the only places open on Thanksgiving. Stuck with the equally as enthusiastic coworkers, Lisa-Marie can’t go home and snog with her boyfriend when one lonely customer decides to show up right before they were given the blessing to leave. The situation at the restaurant goes from irritable to fatal when a family of cannibals with ancestry Pilgrim ties raids the open business to keep with their yearly tradition of cooking a thankful feast out of “thankless” people. For 400 years, the tradition has been upheld and sought through, but they’ve never went up against anyone like Lisa-Marie Taft before.
Are we ready for some Thanksgiving leftovers yet? The time to give thanks to all our family and friends holiday has come and gone and many fans have exhausted through the extremely short list of Thanksgiving themed horror films, such as “Thankskilling,” “Thankskilling 3” and “Blood Rage” to be the most likely few viewed this past holiday week. Well, have you ever heard of 2020’s “The Last Thanksgiving” from writer-director Erick Lorinc? If you haven’t, then put back on your watching stretchy pants to gobble up another feast of cranberries and carnage as this slasher is from a group of University of Miami grads shooting on the streets and in the rural fall foliage of Chattanooga, Tennessee and in the Derry’s Family Restaurant in Hollywood, Florida with some of the shots being done over the actual Thanksgiving break for, you know, immersive authentic fall and giving thanks atmospheric quality. “The Last Thanksgiving” is a Peak Jerry Production and is the first full-length feature film from Lorinc and produced by Annissa Omran with Sydney Gold serve as associate producer.
In the role of the snooty, snarky Lisa-Marie is fellow University of Miami grad Samantha Ferrand who plays the not-so-nice version of Halloween’s Laurie Strode with a complete disdain for her responsibly burdening parents and, well, basically any form of adult authority. Even Lisa-Marie’s softy boss receives talkback and huff and puffs from what Lorinc pens as a self-centered brat. As Lisa-Marie goes to war against the world, including her gothic waitress counterpart Trudie (Gabriela Spampinato) in a witty top dog positioning back-and-forth at times, she’s goes up against the Brimstone family who have a long-standing cannibalistic Thanksgiving tradition of following their Pilgrim relative’s footsteps, Abigail Brimstone (played dually by Alex Love and Gosta Utarefson). The Brimstone family tradition has been enacted for over 400 years by each generation and this generation is no different with the commune living of two sisters and two brothers, who also may or may not be sleeping with other. Yikes! Matthew McClure and Tristan Petashnick become the masterminding main face of the Brimstone clan as brother and sister, Kurt and Cordelia, while Laura Finley and Michael Vitovich come top up as the grunt work muscle as Maggie and as the Leatherface-esque Trip, a tall, quiet, and mask-wearing brother that takes a note from classic slasher icons with walking chase downs and brutal kills. Together, the Brimstone family is not terribly cliche at all and are backed by strong, singular performances that stand out like rightful, lip-smacking wolves against the restaurant sheep trying to survive the holiday on the backs of each other. These particular group of individuals are the perfect side dishes to the smorgasbord of sanguinary grub with a Backstage audition casting of Robert Richards Jr., Brandon Holzer, Madelin Marchant, Tametria Harris, Bobby Eddy, Nicholas Punales, Francisco D Gonzalez, and scream queen icon, Linnea Quigley (“Night of the Demons”) as the one, lonely restaurant patron in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
We’ve established that performances are strong, but what about the story? Does it salivate interest and keep your attention from start to finish? Is enough Thanksgiving incorporated material live up to the niche theme? Certainly campy with dark, puritanical humor that stresses the importance giving thanks and being with family and friends on the holiday, “The Last Thanksgiving” unquestionably expresses itself as a film that fits inside the theme’s parameters while also not taking itself too seriously, which has been routinely par for the course for these types of Turkey Day films. Lorinc’s story concept stretches the gamut by briefly sending audiences back in time to when Pilgrims had the first Thanksgiving with the local Native American. With the quasi-flash back story depicting Abigail Brimstone, who was in need of more food for the first feast because the Native Americans would be joining them at the table, chopping and mincing the postmortem remains of a handful of Native Americans to robust her menu, the Brimstone family quickly becomes understood after the first two acts of just chalking them up to your everyday cannibal, but the Lorinc takes the simple and satisfactory explanation, one that’s easily understandable and works as a cause, to a complicated and incongruous supernatural area with a 400-year old Abigail Brimstone still very much alive, and still looking good after four centuries, to procreate with one of each year’s male victims to keep the family craving and carving that human flesh turkey. Cleaved in half heads, a jawless leftover, and a basement full of acidic gravy should be gobbled up in this traditional holiday horror film, “The Last Thanksgiving!”
Scream Team Releasing releases “The Last Thanksgiving” on a AVC encoded Blu-ray home video with a 1.77:1 aspect ratio and presented 1080p high definition. For a fall holiday feature, we’re treated to some fall coloring of brown and red of the Chattanooga wooded areas and the detailing in the textures of sweaters, scarfs, and pilgrim hats to bring out the right festive feelings of a fall, but the image grading reins backs a tad that doesn’t showcase the true beauty of fading foliage. For an indie crew working with university equipment, contrast levels appear balanced to enrich the shadows where needed and lit-up appropriate locations helps delineate scenes of trepidation clearly. There were no evident issues with compression on the 50GB Blu-ray pressing. The English language 5.1 surround stereo mix is the sole mix on the release and this is the part of the A/V package where “The Last Thanksgiving” can’t stuff it all into that the big bird cavity. Dialogue is clear but is more pallid to the ears and when decibels reach a certain height, the audio output starts to break down slightly to a crackle. Optional English subtitles are available. Bonus features include an audio commentary, The Long Pilgrimage an in-depth making of featurette with the University of Miami grad cast and crew, “Thanksgiving” 1978 short film which has scenes spliced into the feature film, gag reel, Talking Turkey: Late Night Discussion, auditions, photo gallery, teaser, and official trailer. The blue snapper case has shoddy front cover art that doesn’t provide the best first impression, but the backside has more retro appeal and the cover art is reversible with still image on the inside with the film’s splayed on top. The Scream Teaming Releasing Blu-ray comes region free, unrated, and has a runtime of 70 minutes. “The Last Thanksgiving” is a great addition to the boutique Thanksgiving horror movie table that will certainly be a yearly staple in every family fright night viewing tradition.