It’s For the Family

Pilgrim Review

Pilgrim poster

I may have things a little backwards here. Since I’m a firm believer in the saying “it’s better late than never,” I decided to squeeze a Thanksgiving-related review in here before going full-on Christmas mode. With that said, continue on to read my thoughts about Marcus Dunstan’s Pilgrim.

The Plot

In hopes of bringing her family closer, Anna has invited a group of Thanksgiving re-enactors to her home for the holiday. Never breaking character, the new guests take some pretty extreme measures to ensure that Anna and her family learn the true meaning of gratitude.

My Thoughts

I can’t be the only one who is bothered by the lack of horror films centering on the Thanksgiving holiday. Sure, we have the silly films like Thankskilling and every one seems to be binging on cranberry sauce with Blood Rage, after its re-introduction to the masses thanks to Arrow Video a few years back. Still, there is a very large void that needs to be filled in this area of holiday horror and I think I’ve just found the film to do that.

I tend to feel that there is way too much content to digest in 2019. With every single network having their own streaming service and the longtime leaders of the digital age like Netflix, Amazon, etc, it is extremely difficult to watch everything one wishes to. Because of this, I would be doing my audience here, no matter how large or small it may be, a disservice by not writing about Marcus Dunstan’s Pilgrim.

On paper, Pilgrim has elements that are rather comical; The film’s antagonists are strangers dressed as pilgrims from the very first Thanksgiving. Everything from their clothing to their ideals is taken straight from the early 1600s.

As silly as that may seem in a time when fashion is ever changing and a family sitting around a dinner table together is a strange and distant concept, it is actually quite effective here.

Dunstan and the team of writers behind Pilgrim played this entire thing rather seriously, making it much easier for the audience to do the same. Yes, there are a couple of moments where some humor is slipped in, but for the most part, this one is as earnest as they come.

I hate to do this because I know I’ll get some sort of kickback for it, but Pilgrim is a lot like another film from earlier this year — Ari Aster’s Midsommar. While that film is very much its own beast and Aster has a style that not many can match, there is no denying the similarities between the two films.

Without spoiling either one, many comparisons can still be made. A significant amount of the horror experience created throughout this film is based solely on underlying tones and the mood brought on by an effective score, certain cinematography and shooting choices, and, of course, very talented performers.

The majority of Pilgrim, like Aster’s movie, takes place during the day, in the sunny outdoors. There are no real blatantly dark or menacing entities present, but there is always that sense of dread regardless.

Like I said, our baddies are dressed as early settlers. How frightening can that be? It is that false sense of safety, their calm demeanor, and generous nature that help create that underlying sense of uneasiness. Once their true colors show, then the horror truly begins.

Marcus Dunstan is no stranger to this genre. He has made some pretty fantastic films over the past 10 years including The Collector and its sequel, The Collection. I’ve always been a fan of those films and I am extremely happy to know that they are finally filming a third film in that franchise after all of these years.

While Pilgrim certainly has a different feel from those and his other projects, it is still an effective horror film and I recommend you all login to your Hulu accounts to give it a watch as soon as you can.

The Verdict

I haven’t had time to watch all of the “Into the Dark” original Hulu series, but the few that I have had time for have been rather enjoyable. Pilgrim is the best I’ve seen yet.

It features a very talented cast, including Reign Edwards (Hell Fest), Kerr Smith (My Bloody Valentine 3D), Courtney Henggeler (“Cobra Kai”), Peter Giles (“Portlandia”), and young Antonio Raul Corbo, to name a few. Each actor does a tremendous job in their respective roles, but I’d say the standouts were Edwards as Cody and Giles as the leader of this pilgrim cult, Ethan.

Pilgrim has elements of the home invasion sub-genre, but also borrows from others, as well. The practical effects are impressive and while it isn’t the goriest film, the final act ramps up the blood and guts factor enough to satiate most of you diehard gore-mongers.

If you’re like me and want more Thanksgiving horror in your life, be sure to add “Into the Dark” Pilgrim to your watch list. It fills this turkey day terror void while also delivering a rather appropriate message about the state of our technologically-driven society, the values we seem to be losing grip on daily, and the things that we should be grateful for the most.

I give this one 4 psycho ren-faire wannabes out of 5.

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