According to the website Black Friday Deathcount, seventeen people have died and one hundred and twenty five have been injured during the big American shopping extravaganza, which has spilled over to the UK as well. There is irony in such a day coming after a holiday celebrating being thankful for what we have. The crazed behaviour of shoppers trying to find a supposed bargain could easily be something out of a horror movie, and when you add in a parasitic alien infection you get the new film Black Friday.
Written by Andy Greskoviak and directed by Casey Tebo, Black Friday centres around the employees of a big retail store called We Love Toys, as they come into work incredibly early to prepare for the rush. Little do they know that parasitic aliens have already taken out a nearby store and are about to hit them next.
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Devon Sawa (Final Destination, Chucky) leads the group as Ken Bates, the divorcee who just wants to get back to his kids, and the rest of the group could almost be characters lifted out of the sitcom Superstore. There is Ivana Baquero (Pan’s Labyrinth) as the feisty female lead Marnie, Ryan Lee (Super 8) as the wimpy germaphobe Chris, and the rest of the largely forgettable misfits. The characters are not unlikeable, unless they are supposed to be, but there is not a lot of substance to them. Granted Black Friday is a B-Movie horror flick, so we cannot expect a lot of character development, but a good number do not develop at all as they are taken out by the infected hosts of the parasites.
Rounding out the group as the Glenn-like manager figure (if Glenn was a cranky asshole) is Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead, Bubba Ho-Tep) who, in addition to being an executive producer, also gets to wear a very snazzy bow tie and cardigan combination. Campbell, as always, steals the show in every scene he is in, but with over forty years of the very best B-movie experience that is hardly surprising. For all the film’s cheesiness and cliches Campbell makes the experience more enjoyable, and if you are a fan of his it is worth a watch for him alone.
The effects are not bad and there are some good visual gags that combine well with the grisly guts and gore, and the monsters are firmly up there with your Blobs and Things. There are laugh out loud gags, a lot from Campbell hamming it up to the max, but there are some downers as well. Whether intentional or not, a lot of the shoppers who are violently taken out by the infected are women. Also the lack of development given to some of the characters ends up being offensive, for what should be obvious reasons, and there is just general lack of motivation all around.
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At a run time of only eighty four minutes (which is a good thing, as if it were longer it would start to get stale very quickly) the film is an entertaining watch, but don’t expect anything particularly memorable to come out of it. It is a fun way to pass the time, and if you are a Campbell fan it has that going for it, but that is about it. Not even a soundtrack composed by Patrick Stump, of Fall Out Boy fame, makes this stand out any more. Perhaps if it had reached a little deeper and become more of a sartorial comment on consumerism it might have hit higher on the scale of enjoyment? But… maybe not.
Black Friday is out on Digital Platforms on 11th February from Signature Entertainment.