Eli Roth’s uniquely holiday-inspired horror film, ‘Thanksgiving,’ presents a classic Slasher story about a killer donning a James Carver mask, set loose in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The town oversees a grim Thanksgiving when a Black Friday Sale at Thomas Wright’s Right Mart ends in a manic stampede that results in numerous tragic deaths. However, the real horror begins the following year when a turkey-day-themed killer starts targeting the people involved in the riot. Thus, Wright’s daughter, Jess, and her troublemaking friends, who were present at the lethal shopping event, spiral once they realize they’re on the killer’s radar.
At first, the film’s inciting event, the Black Friday event at Right Mart with a body count, may seem absurd. However, the idea’s execution and the real-life prevalence of the Thanksgiving-adjacent holiday may lead viewers to wonder if the Right Mart and its gruesome sale season actually hold any relation to reality.
Right Mart And Real Black Friday Sale Stampedes
While Right Mart, the supermarket from ‘Thanksgiving,’ is not based on a real-life store, it still holds some basis in reality. Within the film, the store’s prime narrative service stems from the riot that occurs at the location during the Black Friday Sale. The event directly influences the film’s following plot points, establishing itself as an instrumental sequence.
As it would turn out, even though the Right Mart has no basis in real life, the unfortunate Black Friday Sale Stampede does. Black Friday, marking the start of Christmas shopping in numerous areas, is almost its own holiday for many people. With retail stores offering huge deals and discounts, the day remains significant for shoppers on a budget or just people seeking out a good trade.
However, for years now, the Black Friday Sale has become a dangerous night for many, considering the death toll that the pseudo-holiday has managed to rack up. In fact, there’s even a website, “Black Friday Death Count,” that keeps track of the number of fatalities caused by the event.
One of the first instances of a Black Friday Stampede came in 2008, when eager shoppers busted down a Long Island Walmart store’s front door, resulting in a hostile situation that killed one of the employees, Jdimytai Damour. One of her co-workers spoke about the incident and said, “How could you take a man’s life to save $20 on a TV?”
Unfortunately, the event only marked the first instance of a Black Friday Stampede death rather than the end of it. Over the years, numerous people have lost their lives as a direct result of the seasonal sale craze.
Director Roth, who wrote the film alongside screenwriter Jeff Rendell, discussed this phenomenon and its connection to the film in a conversation with Yahoo Entertainment. “Seeing those videos of Black Friday stampedes really struck a chord with me,” said Roth. The filmmaker further expanded on the topic and said, “It’s about consumerism run amok. Hostel [Roth’s other film] deals with that as well. It’s something I do find terrifying: That people can justify [violent] behavior if they’re going to get something on sale. What’s horrifying is how people can dehumanize someone else to the point where they’re not a person anymore. It becomes a sports event.”
As such, even though Right Mart isn’t based on a real supermarket, the narratively relevant stampede that occurs inside it remains intrinsically connected to real life.