Don’t let the holidays eat you alive…
With the holiday season fast approaching, retail workers are under even more stress than usual. Having to deal with fussy customers looking for the perfect gift for even fussier relatives is an exhausting experience that can sap the joy from any weekend. But if you’re looking for a fun movie to watch after a busy Thanksgiving or an exhausting Black Friday, why not unwind with, well, Black Friday (2021)?
What is Black Friday About?
Directed by Casey Tebo, Black Friday is a horror-comedy that follows the misadventures of a group of retail workers forced to man their local toy store during its midnight launch of Black Friday (or, as they call it in the film, Green Friday). Unfortunately for them, their town is experiencing a meteor shower that, unbeknownst to them, has rained more than cosmic debris down on the town: it’s also given them hostile alien life that’s infecting the shoppers in their store. From here, the story quickly turns into a classic zombie-survival tale (even though the danger is extraterrestrial), where the employees have to try and make it to safety while avoiding being infected by the cannibalistic capitalists. The movie ends with the store catching fire, the MegaShopper (aka. a giant kaiju formed out of all the infected store goers) bursting through the roof of the store, and the employees killing the monster before it can escape and wreak havoc on the town. As the trio of survivors drives off to safety, the camera zooms out and we see more MegaShoppers litter the distant skyline.
It’s Not Perfect…
Tebo’s Black Friday is admittedly not a perfect movie and tends to be a bit all over the place. The acting is wildly inconsistent, with some of the actors giving convincing performances and others just trying their best. But, in all fairness, their characters are also inconsistent. The movie opens with Ken (Devon Sawa) dropping his kids off for dinner at their mother’s house and telling them how much he misses them. When the shoppers begin to change into zombie-like aliens, he expresses concern for his children and his need to get back to them. But, out of nowhere, we’re told he’s a bad father and has never cared about his daughters before this, information that directly contradicts the opening of the film. Brian (Stephen Peck) is another character who suffers from inconsistent writing. He begins the film as a supervisor who’s so mean to Chris (Ryan Lee), that he’s practically a supervillain. Then, when things start to go south, he mellows out and helps the team try to save the day. But come the film’s conclusion, he’s back to his nefarious ways by trying to leave Ken for dead and turning on his only allies, Chris and Marnie (Ivana Baquero).
Characters also seem to suffer plot amnesia where they spontaneously forget important details, key information, and lose any critical thinking skills they previously had. Characters who are told to get to safety wander into dangerous territory for the hell of it, characters who are told to be quiet scream at nothing and set off alarms, and characters who are obsessed with their own survival try defeating the monster through their managerial skills. Seriously.
…But It Is Fun
With that being said, Black Friday is also a lot of fun. Zombie movies are always entertaining for their creative ways of killing characters and fending off monsters, and this film does that fairly well. There’s something funny about a pack of grown men armed with foam body armour and plastic swords heading out to kill the infected. Some of the visual gags and retail jokes are also hilarious, like the store’s malfunctioning “Dour Denis.” It’s supposed to be a teddy bear that talks about your problems, but due to a defective battery the bear just sounds depressed as he talks about his impending divorce, how his body always hurts, and his depression. Plus, getting to see Bruce Campbell kick zombie butt as a store manager feels like a great homage to Ash in the Evil Dead franchise.
There’s also something extremely cathartic about Black Friday if you’ve ever worked in retail. It’s fun to watch sh*tty customers who have no respect for store employees and who bowl each other over for discount toys get their comeuppance. And seeing an empty store that cares more about profit margins than people burn to the ground can be a shockingly therapeutic experience (especially if you’ve just finished a Black Friday shift and know Cyber Monday won’t be any better thanks to the approaching holiday season).
All in all, this movie is far from perfect, but it’s a tremendous amount of fun. If you’re able to not think too much and enjoy the ride, then you might just find yourself looking forward to Black Friday.