There exist certain openings in the pantheon of films that become timeless. They are lasting images that simultaneously tell you everything you need to know about the film you’re about to watch and become iconic images that transcend the film they’re in. Two enormous spaceships rocketing overhead locked in the heat of battle. A rugged archeologist grabbing a golden idol and outrunning a booby-trapped boulder. A baboon holding up a baby lion on a rock. “I was born a poor black child”. “They’re coming to get you Barbra”. Chances are, you know exactly what movie these are from, even if you haven’t seen them. With all that in mind, I’m now going to discuss a film that begins with a topless pilgrim woman running through the woods being chased by a homicidal turkey wielding an ax yelling “nice tits bitch”.
Honestly, I could probably stop writing this review right here. If upon reading that line you found yourself shaking your head and groaning to yourself, you’ll hate this movie. If you found yourself thinking that you should pick up some of your favorite fall seasonal beers and get some friends together to watch this, then you should do that. “ThanksKilling” is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s poorly written, acted and paced. All of the backstory is delivered through two overly long expository scenes. It follows the slasher film check-list. Most of the time, the humor falls terribly flat. However, there are a few scenes scattered here and there throughout the film that so absolutely absurd that they had me in stitches.
“ThanksKilling” is one of the most generic slasher films I’ve seen. It’s Thanksgiving Break at an Ohio College (why do these movies always take place in my home state?) and, get this, some horny college kids decide to take a road trip! But guess what? Their jeep breaks down in the woods! How terrible! What ever will poor Football Jock, Trampy Slut, Nerdy Virgin, Obese Hillbilly and Homely Chick do? If you guessed tell ghost stories about ancient demonically possessed homicidal turkeys around a campfire, you win! Hold onto your seats for this one, the ghost story actually turns out to be true! Holy original film idea!
Outside of the species of the homicidal murderer, there’s nothing new here. The characters are your typical five slasher movie characters. Of course, Trampy Slut is the first to go, Nerdy Virgin is the one that knows and explains all the necessary backstory, Obese Hillbilly is the comedic relief, Football Jock is our hero who tragically dies minutes before the movie ends and Homely Chick is our Final Girl. Along the way, some of their parents get killed, some of them have mental breakdowns, the killer is erroneously declared dead pre-maturely, you get the point, you’ve seen this a million times.
Much like many other direct-to-DVD slasher films, the acting here is painful. No one can deliver a line with anything that even remotely sounds like emotion. Often times, their lines don’t sound like something any real person would say, so it’s hard to connect with these characters as they don’t feel real. This film also tries to have a sense of humor, but 90% of the time fails miserably. Case in point, this movie was released in 2009. There are no fewer than three Jon Benet Ramsey jokes here. Younger readers, go hit up Wikipedia for that one. This film isn’t exactly “The Jerk” by any stretch.
Now I’ve made two big qualifying statements so far, the killer and the other 10% of the jokes. This is a sentence I never thought I would find myself writing, but the demonic turkey is one of the strangest, funniest things I’ve ever seen in a film like this. The turkey is essentially a combination of Chucky and the killer from “Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2”. The puppet looks horrible. It makes this annoying, over-acting laugh as it walks around. It’s one-liners are awful and cliched. However, every scene with it has this strange sense of parody that make them actually work. Even stranger, there are two scenes in this movie that had me in stitches. Early on, the turkey takes a hostage while hitch-hiking. While there’s nothing overly original about the scene (it feels like something that would have been in “Natural Born Killers”), the fact that there’s a giant talking turkey makes it absolutely hysterical. Similarly, there’s a scene later on in the film where the turkey is waiting in one of our teen’s kitchens with her Dad, who also happens to be dressed up like a turkey, making idle chit-chat and talking about coffee that just absolutely worked.
In many ways, “ThanksKilling” feels like two movies that have been crudely shoved together with little binding. On one hand, you have the amateur effort slasher film, that feels like every other awful direct-to-DVD slasher film flooding the aisles of you local video store and Netflix’s online catalog. But on the other hand, you have a movie about this homicidal turkey that is just so strange and weird, that it feels as if it’s some sort of absurdist comedic masterpiece. Ultimately the ratio of bad to good is too skewed towards the bad to make this an easy film to recommend. However, if you have an absurdist sense of humor, or a group of friends who love watching terrible movies and a fridge full of beer, you could do a whole lot worse than watching this while recovering from your enormous Thanksgiving feast. Otherwise, you’ll probably be better off just watching some Football.