Updated: Jul 4, 2020
It seems every holiday has some great horror films to go along with it. I don’t even need to mention Halloween, of course, and Christmas has really been adding some good ones to their list, but Thanksgiving is sorely lacking. We have that great trailer from Eli Roth, Thanksgiving (which is awesome), the amazingly awful yet amazingly incredible Blood Rage, and a real turkey (forgive me) in Thankskilling. Well, now Blumhouse has given us a new holiday feast as part of their Into the Dark TV series on Hulu. It’s called Pilgrim. Is this one a treat or is the turkey overcooked?
There’s this family, and the mother is trying to bring them all together and get back into the spirit of the holidays instead of spending so much time apart, either with other people or with their various electronic devices. She decides to hire authentic holiday reenactors to come to the house for Thanksgiving and get everyone into the mood. Of course, the people she hires turn out to be real whackos who won’t ever break character, it seems, and these pilgrims have a taste for blood.
What is a great set-up gets squandered, in my opinion, by the long time-frame of the story. These pilgrims aren’t just there for the day, but for several days. I suppose it’s so we can watch them slowly dissolve into insanity, but nobody is going to let total strangers stay with them for a week just to get an “authentic” Thanksgiving experience. If this had all taken place over the course (get it) of one night, it would have made for a tighter and more believable flick. Also, when the shit is going down, nobody calls the cops? I can suspend disbelief but come on. That said, I live by the admonishment that I review the movie I got, not the one I wanted. So with those two caveats out of the way…
Pilgrim is a fun, gory mess of a movie that does not take itself seriously. Viewed as high camp and black comedy, this is actually pretty fun. You have to dispense of all sense of logic, as noted, and just go with it. Writer/Director Marcus Dunstan (who incidentally gave us the fine Collector films) does a good job of balancing the encroaching terror and the absolute stupidity of the family in question. Only the daughter gets that there’s something weird about this but she’s too wrapped up in her teenage world to fight back until it’s too late. We get some cool set-pieces and lots of speechifying by lead pilgrim Ethan (Peter Giles) and with its short running time, the movie never overstays its welcome.
So, if you’re looking for some brainless, fun holiday fare, you could do much worse than this one. In the end it is slight and pretty meaningless, and won’t stick to your ribs, but you’ll enjoy it while you’re chowing down, kind of like candied yams. For a great Thanksgiving night at home, after you’ve stuffed yourselves, program this as the first of a double feature with Blood Rage, and the Thanksgiving trailer by Roth in between.
Happy Turkey Day, y’all!
Two Buckets of Blood out of Four
Kelly is the author of dozens of stories and dozens of reviews, he likes to write, he likes to read, he likes going to the movies, and he loves to laugh. He hails from the wilds of Kentucky and if you'd like to see more of his work, check out his website: www.kellymhudson.com