Today we give thanks - for health, family, friends, for having great readers who follow me into all these wretched dark alleys, and for not being murdered by a hells-ugly hand puppet.

Let's be blunt: ThanksKilling - I am assured that the capital "K" is accurate - is basically outsider art. Shot in 2007, but not completed until 2009, it was a project conceived by two film students, Jordan Downey (who also directed) and Kevin Stewart (who also edited and shot), largely as an exercise in finding out it it was possible to make an entire movie on virtually no resources; 14 days, $3500, and leftover scraps for effects. Having now seen ThanksKilling, I remain uncertain whether they proved it was possible.

Certainly, it is a bad film, but only in a niggling, technical sense. I doubt whether a "good" ThanksKilling even could exist, and I have no doubt at all that a "good" ThanksKilling would be an intensely pointless affair, for the sheer enthusiastic energy of its godawful absurdity is pretty much the heart and soul of the whole affair. To wit: there exists, here, a band of young people heading home from college for Thanksgiving, who run afoul of a paranormal serial killer who takes them down, one-by-one, in fairly unadulterated slasher movie style; except that the slasher here is a psychopathic turkey created by Native American magic many hundreds of years ago to take revenge on white people, a turkey represented by an indescribably shitty latex puppet, a turkey who makes intensely anti-funny puns and curses with more fervor than imagination, like a belligerent drunk. There is a plot in there, and characters, and unlike lots of characters in lots of real, professional slasher movies made on a budget by real filmmakers, the people in ThanksKilling get names and distinct identities well in advance of the time that they die, so it's even pretty easy to keep track of them: Johnny (Lance Predmore), a jock with daddy issues; Billy (Aaron Ringhiser-Carlson), a fat redneck; Ali (Natasha Cordova), a dumb slut who is so dumb that it even trumps her promiscuity; Darren (Ryan E. Francis), a bookish geek with bad skin and thinning hair; and Kristen (Lindsey Anderson), who is... let's just say that the only reason to doubt that she's going to be our Final Girl or not is that ThanksKilling seems very much like the kind of movie that would be more than happy to kill off the entire cast.

At a princely 66 minutes, the film doesn't have time for a plot, so the film basically consists of introducing those characters, introducing the killer turkey (voiced by Downey),and putting them and a whole bunch of Meat even more Expendable than they are in the path of the bird's variety of edged weapons. And listening to all of them talking, delivering lines of dialogue that, since I am inclined to be kindly to these ambitious young filmmakers who have, after all, put it all out there and done something to get attention, which is more than I can claim, I shall choose to call "unsophisticated". Lines like "It's called Thanksgiving, not Titsgiving", or a moment that somehow feels like it codifies everything about the entire movie, in which one girl haughtily says of another girl, "Her legs are harder to close than the JonBenet Ramsey case". This quip is regarded by every male character present as the absolute pinnacle of off-the-cuff wit, as though she were the reincarnation of Samuel Johnson and Oscar Wilde rolled into one. They seriously cannot stop laughing and repeating that joke, and while it's not necessarily true that we're supposed to agree with them, I'm pretty sure we're not meant to disagree with them to nearly the extent that I do.

The thing about ThanksKilling, though, is that it's under no illusions about being a good movie, and that's true even without taking a spin around the irony-besotted official site, where Downey and Stewart leave one with the genuine impression that they are happier to have made an extremely bad movie than they would have been to make an extremely good one. It is a crass movie - the very first shot of the whole movie is a close-up of a woman's nipple - and proudly detached from reality - in one sequence that goes on for too long, Kristen can't tell that the turkey, wearing her dad's face like a mask, isn't her actual dad - and above all else, it is a movie profoundly eager to make sure we get in on the joke, which has nothing to do with anything that the film presents as being ostensibly funny, and everything to do how it keeps pointing at itself and laughing at the fact that we now live in a world where this movie could actually exist.

A little bit of that goes an awfully long way, I find, though the film's feverishly short running time makes it borderline-impossible to grow bored with the thing. And the filmmakers' zestful awareness of their own tackiness does actually translate in a way that it doesn't always with the "deliberately bad" school of indie horror filmmaking: it helps that the main cast gives precisely the performances that the movie requires of them to feel like a genuinely incompetent film and not a film playing at incompetence. Which is, yes, a roundabout way of suggesting that the actors seem to be unforcibly terrible, which is mean of me. They are all doubtlessly good people who have families that love them. But they also gave strenuously bad performances here, especially Cordova and Francis.

Less fun-bad and more just bad-bad is the film's unrelievedly nasty tawdriness: the point at which hearing the turkey bellow out "fuck!" and "bitch!" in his guttural voice comes soon indeed, and eventually the character seems more like a sign of meanness on the filmmakers' parts than even a parody of bad slasher movie killers, though I suppose it's to the film's credit that the parody works for as long as it does. Still, parody or not, this is a film with an immensely dark relationship to its characters, particularly its female characters, and the giddy embrace of slut-shaming that happens in the movie's first half is no good at all, parody or not; in its pursuit of extravagance, the film manages to play as even more unpleasantly misogynistic than all but the filthiest of genuine '80s-vintage slasher movies. Its treatment of Native Americans I will leave unaddressed, though only for fear of being thought a humorless prude.

The line between "so bad it's good" and "so bad it's bad" is a dangerously thin one, and I cannot decide how often ThanksKilling is on either side of it; but it certainly never, ever leaves "so bad" territory, and knowing badness, even when it's being down this relatively well, gets awfully doggone tireseome after too long. 66 minutes isn't too long, but I won't pretend that I wasn't a little bit happy when ThanksKilling ended. It's not like anything else out there, and for once, I'm sort of relieved that's the case.

Body Count: 10, which is a fairly awe-inspiring number for a movie this short, and that's not including the dog, the bunny, or the cartoon pilgrim.