Review by Sean Boelman
When it comes to holiday movies, Christmas is all the rage, but there are comparatively few set on Thanksgiving. And while Casey Tebo’s definitively unfestive horror-comedy Black Friday is unlikely to join the very small pantheon of classic Turkey Day flicks, it’s a good time thanks to how much fun the cast is having.
The film follows a group of toy store employees on the busiest shopping day of the year as their customers become a ravenous horde infected by an unknown parasite. In terms of story, it’s a pretty by-the-book zombie movie, but the dark sense of humor in Andy Greskoviak’s script allows it to be a good time, even if it isn’t anything original.
Like so many horror flicks that clock in at under ninety minutes, this movie feels quite rushed. But at least the film has the frenetic energy to keep up the momentum, resulting in a genuinely fun watch. However, the action-packed nature of the movie prevents many of the emotional beats from resonating as they probably should.
As one could expect, there is a strong anti-capitalist edge to the film. This is clearly making fun of the consumerist tradition of this so-called “shopping holiday”, something which ties in extremely well to the absurdity of the premise. Ultimately, there’s not a ton of emphasis on this, but it’s definitely there.
One of the issues with the movie is that the character development is so thin. All of the employees of the store are archetypes to an almost cartoonish level. Ultimately, no one is going to really care who gets killed because there’s really not much done to make the audience become invested in their stories.
That said, the entire cast does an extremely good job of playing it over-the-top in a way that makes these caricatures fun to watch. Bruce Campbell is definitely the highlight as the arrogant store manager, hamming it up as usual. And the rest of the cast, including Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, and Micahel Jai White are all fun.
It’s clear that this is a B-movie from its technical qualities, but there are still some really fun things going on here. The gore effects aren’t super convincing or anything, but given that the film itself is very cheesy, it fits. And as for the creature design, it’s nothing especially creative, but it’s just barely nostalgic enough to work.
Black Friday isn’t anything exceptional within the realm of horror-comedies, but it’s a good time. For those looking for a mindless watch, with a fun Bruce Campbell performance to boot, this is definitely worth checking out.
Black Friday is now in theaters and hits VOD on November 23.