Can TikTok Star Addison Rae Become Horror’s Next Scream Queen?

Andy Warhol once famously said that, in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Unfortunately for that old fart, he never met Addison Rae.

Rae’s star might’ve risen by trend-hopping on TikTok—where she managed to turn viral dance trends into an audience of some 88 million followers—but her career has flourished far beyond the confines of the app’s wildly ephemeral virality. In the years since her initial pre-pandemic fame made her a household name (if your household had children under the age of 17 or a lot of gay relatives visiting), Rae has become a bona fide triple threat: dancer, singer, and actress. Throw in some occasional modeling to that string of careers, and Rae might just quietly be one of the most powerful people in entertainment today.

If you thought that the Addison Accolades would eventually cease when people finally got tired of her, think again: Addison Rae is here to stay. While her four-song pop EP from August might’ve had some people questioning if Rae’s “fans” were just being ironic, it’s safe to say that Rae’s role in the new holiday slasher horror Thanksgiving demonstrates that she has real talent. Rae may only have a bit part in the movie, but it’s more than enough material to prove that this ingénue has what it takes for real Hollywood longevity.

It’s perfectly alright if you didn’t get the whole Addison Rae thing at first. I was somewhat of a late adopter myself; Rae didn’t click for me until late 2021, when I first heard the snippet of her song “I Got It Bad,” which was posted to her TikTok page and left in limbo until its eventual release this past summer. Suddenly, I came to the realization that Rae’s TikTok dances and her starring role in the Netflix bomb He’s All That—a remake of She’s All That, co-starring Kourtney Kardashian as a publicist named Jessica Miles Torres (as if Kourt were Hispanic?)—were just a means to an end. Rae was never meant for the kind of cheesy, fleeting celebrity that would plague her peers like the D’Amelio sisters and Noah Beck. But like even the most apparent talents, Rae had to pay her dues.

In the years since, Rae has armed herself with a fiercely loyal fanbase of gay men and absurdly beautiful straight girls by leaning into the world’s perception of her. If you thought she was an untalented white girl, famous for simply being beautiful while a camera was around, then that’s exactly what she’d be. But she’s doing it with a wink, like when she was photographed recently, walking the streets of Los Angeles reading Britney Spears’ memoir and laughing. Or, she’ll release seemingly mindless bubblegum pop tunes, then list avant-garde electronic provocateurs SOPHIE and Arca as her musical inspirations, going so far as to rep the former in her street style.

You could even argue that anyone could do those things with enough cultural cachet behind them. Throw a young woman into a recording studio, slap some autotune onto her vocals, and let the public eat it up; it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s got any talent. But plop that same woman in front of a camera, and it could be an entirely different story. He’s All That was the biggest blow to Rae’s steadily inclining career thus far. If her follow-up part in Thanksgiving flopped just as hard, it could mean being reduced to—gasp!—a double threat.

Much to the surprise of myself and everyone else who filled Times Square’s Regal Cinema on a Tuesday afternoon last week, Rae has it. You know, it: that singular star quality that no amount of TikTok creator checks or San Fernando Valley acting classes can buy. Granted, the film itself is the kind of rollicking good time that studio horror movies rarely generate anymore. It’s confident yet gleefully low-brow, without being too smug about how well it’s succeeding in that mission—sort of like Addison Rae herself!

In Thanksgiving, Rae plays Gabby, the typical, popular high school student dating the lug-headed quarterback. Gabby, along with her group of equally archetypal friends, becomes the subject of a serial killer’s interest after their early entry into a Black Friday doorbuster sale turns the event into a massacre, leaving the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts rocked in a way it hasn’t been in 402 years. One year after the deadly stampede, the killer stalks the coeds, taking them all hostage one by one for the most sinister holiday dinner since Anna Faris almost got carbon monoxide poisoning.

(L to R) Gabriel Davenport, Jenna Warren, Tomaso Sanelli, and Addison Rae star in Thanksgiving.

Tristar Pictures

Rae technically plays second fiddle to Nell Verlaque’s Jessica, who is the main subject of the killer’s interest as the heir to the chain store empire where the Black Friday massacre occurred. To her credit: Verlaque is wonderful, especially considering that this is her biggest role outside of a Disney+ original series that no one has ever heard of. But Rae gives her a run for her money at every turn, stealing focus with a magnetic screen presence that a young starlet hasn’t had for quite some time. Rae has the kind of preternatural watchability of someone like Lindsay Lohan in her prime; the charisma is both organic and completely magical, and you can’t seem to look away.

Rae’s got some decent comic chops too, throwing out perfectly timed punchlines and putting her expressive face to good use. And then there’s her horror scream, which is—and I’m not joking—scary good. She’s equipped with the kind of pipes that will make your blood run cold, and Rae sells that fear from start to finish in the film.

Whether or not Rae survives Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is something you’ll just have to find out for yourself. (Let’s just say, whether you’re going as an Addison Adherent or merely a fan of horror films, you’ll have a fantastic time at the movies either way.) But seeing Rae make the jump from TikTok meme queen to legitimate movie star on her own terms is as side-splitting as it is marvelous to watch, and it’s because Rae seems to have a very casual approach to her own budding superstardom. She’s taking it both very seriously and not seriously at all. It’s that kind of tongue-in-cheek method that will result in Rae going farther than any of us initially thought. She may even single-handedly manage to push the boundaries of our modern idea of what fame has to—or can—be.

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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