Black Friday! (FANTASTIC) Is the Holiday Event You Won’t Want to Miss
Title: Black Friday!
First Non-Festival Release: November 2021 (Theatrical Release TBD)
Director: Casey Tebo
Writer: Andy Greskoviak
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, Ryan Lee
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Fantastic Film Festival 2021.
On the craziest night of the year, Black Friday, employees at a We Love Toys store are getting everything ready for the Thanksgiving rush. Among them are “too cool for school” Ken (Devin Sawa), germophobic young adult Chris (Ryan Lee), girl next door Marnie (Ivana Baquero), and plenty of others working for the chain store. Unfortunately for them, the shoppers are rabid with more than just great deals for flat screen television sets and Dour Dennis teddy bears. They have been transformed by an alien substance that turns them into frothing zombie-like creatures with a compulsion to build. Can the group work together to get the hell out of there or are they doomed to ring up overtime there for eternity?
Black Friday! is an enjoyable, albeit, restrained horror-comedy-sci-fi mashup that suffers from some unevenness.
A rapid paced, sarcastic romp, Black Friday! tells the story about a holiday the horror genre has not yet tackled seriously. Focusing on the characters more than the carnage, we are treated to a fun tale of found family that adds a little sweetness to the bloodied post-Thanksgiving carnage of an invasion. Its first big mistake is its lack of utilization of the toy store. A bit too much time is spent in the backroom; it starts feeling extra generic once we leave the aisles in favor of rows of brown boxes and shelves. Thankfully, the film finds its footing with the action. The practical effects are great 99% of the time minus a few overhead shots. Its main creature is unique, dynamic, and incredibly fun to watch transform throughout the film. It presents a nice challenge for the coworkers to overcome and presents plausible reasons to stay in hiding.
Black Friday! shines, however, with its characters. Everyone is a strong and relatively fleshed out person that gets decent development throughout the film, which is a nice breath of fresh air. Ryan Lee’s Chris comes up as a favorite for me because I rarely find a character so relatable regarding hand sanitizer and germaphobia at work. Stephen Peck plays Brian, another favorite, a backstabbing yet resourceful assistant manager who you never quite know where you stand with. Unfortunately, both Devon Sawa and Bruce Campbell’s characters are a little flat in comparison, especially considering the actors that play them. Of course, both give their all and make for solid team members for fighting against the zombified shoppers. Regardless, the cast is talented and looks like they are having a blast making the film.
I love the symbolism for the shoppers becoming the monster that destroys the store and kills the team. Everything is amplified by what they do: ignoring the workers when they are out of the way, killing them when they are, taking items and mindlessly stacking them for their own enjoyment. It’s nice take on consumerism in the United States. Of course, there are plenty of jokes that are specifically about how Black Friday sucks for retail workers and how slimy management can be about it. Still, more could have been done to toy with the environment and shed a brighter light on the issues, considering this is the first major film made about the holiday.
I had high hopes for Black Friday! and while they were slightly dashed, it is still a pretty good time for anyone looking for a good laugh or scare. There’s plenty of gore, laughs, and great one-liners to keep your attention while you casually soak in the anti-consumerism sentiment surrounding America’s worst holiday. Truthfully, it’s incredible that this is the first big take on it in the horror genre. Overall, it’s hard to deny the feeling of wanting afterwards, but Black Friday! is still worth the price of admission. The only hell in your holidays should come from this little indie gem, check it out when it hits theaters.
Overall Score? 6.5/10