Every year, the Salem Horror Festival brings together some of the finest and most diverse voices in horror for an event that features world premieres of exciting new genre material, retrospectives, shorts, and filmmaker Q&As. In this wild year of 2020 while we’re all trapped inside due to COVID-19, the festival has moved to an online format, which means you don’t have to leave your house to join in on the fun. The festival runs for two weekends starting this Friday. Check it out at salemhorror.com
In the meantime, enjoy some capsule reviews of some of the flicks that you can catch at the fest.
The Last Thanksgiving (2020), directed by Erick Lorinc
Extreme low budgets are typically much more forgiving to slashers than really any other subgenre, and The Last Thanksgiving is no exception. While it is indeed a micro-budget feature, it’s clear that the filmmakers spent the bulk of their money on gore effects and the mops used to clean it all up. While not as over the top as say, Dead Alive, when the blood starts flowing, it gets pretty nuts.
The film takes place almost entirely inside of a restaurant that, against the wishes of the workers, stays open on Thanksgiving. The boss announces that they will use the slow business day to clean the restaurant, and if no one comes in, the staff can close up and go home. This is all well and good until customers start arriving. These customers aren’t here to eat turkey, however. Nope, they’re here to eat the staff, who they’ve decided deserve to be punished for not celebrating the holiday with their families.
The film wastes no time setting up our cast of future corpses, giving us small tastes into their personalities and desires. This feels somewhat perfunctory, well, because it is. Entering a slasher film, we in the audience arrive with the tacit assumption that most of the characters we meet will die, so it’s best not to get too attached to any of them. At the same time, it feels like the film wants us to care about these characters, but the material just isn’t there. At just over an hour in length, it’s hard to say that too much time is devoted to anything, really, but too much time is definitely devoted to these introductions. It also doesn’t help that the lead actress races through her lines so fast it feels like she’s a non-English speaker and is just reciting the words phonetically. It’s weird.
Yet as previously mentioned, the carnage is a lot of fun. A handful of scenes manage to milk some tension and humor out of our goofball victims and weirdo cannibals. Watching this one at home was fun, but this would be served best in a packed theater with a head full of your vice of choice. Since this is an at-home festival, maybe a zoom parity is in order…