Based on a True Story
Get ready for turkey, stuffing (or “dressing” if you’re a monster), cranberry sauce, whitewashed history and family drama. It’s Thanksgiving in America!
“Blumhouse Presents: Into the Dark” is Hulu’s monthly anthology horror. They started in October of last year, and have continued with monthly holiday-themed thrillers. Who knew we could be afraid of Mother’s Day?
“Pilgrim,” is this November’s installment, and features a family reluctantly getting “back to basics,” as described by mother Anna (Courtney Henggeler). Her intent is to repair her relationship with her stepdaughter Cody (Reign Edwards). She hires Pilgrim impersonators to bring her family back to the stereotypical Pilgrim’s Pride/Walmart/Kohl’s Black Friday Sale-style Thanksgiving, but the family quickly realizes that something is very wrong.
The acting is great, and the quality of writing is a welcome departure from recent installments in the series, like “Uncanny Annie” (October) and “School Spirit” (August).
With scene setup and cinematography, the Pilgrims always appear in strange and sudden shots that snap into focus and into close-ups with chilling speed, much like a shipload of religious zealots parking their ship on a foreign beach.
The movie is a metaphor for the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrim impersonators begin as the peaceful, devout Christian characters we have known them as most of our lives. They slowly devolve into the violent, radical truth.
The family is a representation of the Native Americans before and after colonization. Before the Pilgrims, most were content with their own culture, had family drama like everyone else and lived their lives relatively independent.
Following the arrival of the Pilgrims, their lives (and their house, a representation of the pre-Columbian Americas, are destroyed). The family is forced to become savage, murdering the pilgrims with their own arrogance and ignorance.
Spoiler Alert: they poison them with Jerusalem cherries and hack them apart with an axe. Sounds like a tomahawk to me.
This movie is a retaliation against whitewashed history, and a revenge flick for the truth.
We all grew up with the same Thanksgiving story: the Pilgrims were a group of pious Protestant fundamentalists who left the blasphemous Church of England for the Americas because of the religious freedoms that this country offered.
They sailed across on The Mayflower and landed peacefully on the shores of modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. They met peaceful Native Americans who taught them how to farm and survive on the rocky Northeastern soul. At the end of the harvest season, they sat down together as equals and partook in a giant feast: turkey, roasted vegetables, sweet fruit sauces and lots of corn.
There’s a small problem here, if you haven’t figured it out yet: it’s all systematic white supremacy and PR spin.
The Pilgrims were a religious cult within the Church of England in the 1600s. They thought women and people of color had too many rights and that the people needed to get back to basics.
Things like speaking out of turn, participating in non-religious governance, wearing colors, being unmarried at 15 and general social equality were the work of Satan and only a religious pilgrimage to the middle of [expletive] nowhere would course-correct their souls.
They sailed across the Atlantic (almost none of them were nautically-inclined, so they got lost a couple of times) and landed at a desolate, rocky, forested beach.
Because they were tired, starving and likely arrived with more people than when they left England, they had to build a camp. The Native Americans freaked out, because these white people with in weird outfits just showed up and started speaking a language they didn’t know and eating their food.
The Puritans, as they had taken to calling themselves, saw these Native peoples as an obstacle, and executed most of them. The ones who weren’t killed were enslaved and brought back to England as trophies.
More Puritans saw this and saw an opportunity to exploit land that the Native Americans quote-unquote “weren’t using,” and seized it from whoever was left alive after smallpox through violence and murder. They slaughtered the Native Americans in the name of freedom from religious laws (or all British laws, but whatever) and took their land.
The Puritans forced the Native Americans to teach them how to farm, and then at the end of the harvest, quote-unquote “honored” their slaves by forcing them to choke down unseasoned vegetables they didn’t know how to cook and whatever animals the tribespeople had hunted to feed themselves, because 17th Century metropolitan cult members had the wrong idea of exactly what entailed a nature retreat.
There most likely was not even a turkey at the first Thanksgiving.
The cycle continued as more people arrived, took more land and ostracized more Native people. Soon, the Puritans officiated their charter for a British colony on stolen land and ethically-questionable 1950s sales tactics bring us the cookie-cutter, problematically antiquated holiday we know and love.