Eli Roth talks subverting the animal violence horror trope in Thanksgiving: "I'm seeing it from the turkey's point of view"


No matter how gory Eli Roth's films may be, the Thanksgiving director doesn't believe in the animal violence trope that remains prevalent in the horror genre.

"I'm an animal lover and I made a documentary called Fin about the slaughter of sharks. Sharks are completely misunderstood and killed for no reason. They keep our ocean healthy and keep our oxygen clean. But they've been demonized in movies and they're all being wiped out for nothing. It's complete insanity," Roth tells GamesRadar+. "So I'm always seeing things from the animal's point of view. I'm seeing it from the turkey's point of view. Whenever I watch a horror movie and I see a cat or a dog, I don't care about anyone else in the movie. I just go, 'Please don't let anything happen to the cat.'"

Addd Roth: "When I'm watching Alien, I don't care about the crew, I'm watching Jones the Cat. I don't care if everybody dies, as long as that cat gets off that ship and away from that alien."

Thanksgiving, which is a feature-length adaptation of a fake trailer that contains non-stop back-to-back violent kills, is more concerned with revenge of the human variety. One of the best scenes in the film involves a beloved pet who bears witness to something pretty gruesome – and we'll let you head to the theaters to see it for yourself.


A common trope that has existed throughout the slasher genre – and has made its way into modern horror – involves some kind of beloved pet being murdered by the killer. A good example of this occurs in Halloween 4, when Jamie's dog is hung by Michael Myers (and I cry a little just thinking about it). If an animal of any kind enters the scene in a horror film, it's hard not to be instantly on edge. Evil Dead Rises director Lee Cronin even cut a scene involving a deadite cat, because he knew audiences would be upset.

"I also have a problem in movies when someone has a pet and they get killed by the killer. I can't enjoy the movie until I know someone's gonna feed that pet. Even though I know it's a story, I know it's not real. I'm like, but what about the cat?" Roth continues. "Who or what about the dog? Their owner's dead. They're just gonna sit there. How are they gonna get food? Because I'm an animal lover and I have a French bulldog, so I know what that would be like if I died – who would feed my dog? So I wanted to answer that question once and for all and to show that this killer has a code. The killer's only gonna kill people that are directly involved with the tragedy. No one else they have a problem with."

The killer in question is a masked pilgrim named John Carver, who descends upon the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts to enact revenge for a tragedy that took place one year earlier. Patrick Dempsey, Nell Verlaque, Rick Hoffman, Addison Rae, Milo Manheim, and Jalen Thomas Brooks all star – with a cameo from Gina Gershon. No turkeys were harmed in the making of this film.

Thanksgiving hits theaters on November 17. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies. For more festive slasher fun, read our other chats with Eli Roth on the making of Thanksgiving and the film's social commentary.