Writer/director Stephen Karam’s close-quarters Thanksgiving horror-comedy is adapted from his 2014 one-act play of the same name, which premiered at Chicago’s now-defunct American Theater Company before opening off-Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for best play. The Blake family is trying to have a nice time at Thanksgiving, but the long hallways of daughter Brigid (Beanie Feldstein) and well-meaning musician boyfriend Richard’s (Steven Yeun) still-unfurnished Manhattan duplex resound with tough love that keeps crossing the line, walking itself back, then crossing it again. In a career-best performance, Amy Schumer plays the depressed family empath, Aimee, opposite bitter and ferocious parents Deirdre (Jayne Houdyshell) and Erik (Richard Jenkins). The girls’ grandmother, Momo (June Squibb), whose round-the-clock care has strained their parents’ marriage to a breaking point, eats her meal from a wheelchair and can hardly speak.
With several fleeting exceptions—an opening montage shot up at blue skies from the inner courtyard, a glimpse at the Manhattan skyline late in the night, and some hectic chase sequences down to the boiler room and up toward the rooftop in between—the film sustains a single-set, real-time mise-en-scène for its entire one hour and 48 minutes, probing virtually every surface of the duplex until its walls, floors, fixtures, and paint bubbles acquire the texture of a live body. At times, unexplained booming noises from upstairs, burned-out lights, and the claustrophobia of it all shade the ambience into horror movie territory. Chekhov by electric lamplight, A24 style, for the holidays. R, 108 min.