Black Friday! (2021) – Film Review
Director: Casey Tebo
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero
By Roger Crow
Years ago, Frank Darabont directed The Mist, one of the bleakest horror films you’ll ever see. A large portion took place in one of those huge American supermarkets, and the result was terrifying.
Black Friday! also takes place in a similar shop. This one involves toys, and an eclectic band of workers, including store manager Jonathan (Bruce Campbell, who looks more like John Cleese than Evil Dead legend Ash these days).
There’s also Devon Sawa (star of the original Final Destination) and the excellent Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight).
However, The Mist it most definitely isn’t. The tone is more akin to the third act of Gremlins, with store employees fighting for survival against shoppers on a murderous rampage.
From those excellent opening titles with a foot-tapping song, it looks like we’re in for a fun ride. And for the most part it is. But while Campbell is as watchable as ever, and the rest of the cast aren’t bad, there’s not enough material here for the 80-plus minute run time.
Too many shots of zombies doing creepy things, and that finale goes on far too long, with a schlock horror boss monster betraying the relatively low budget. The ending with a fork lift and the alpha beast may as well have a big subtitle screaming: WE KNOW THIS IS LIKE ALIENS, BUT JUST GO WITH IT.
There are sub plots involving a germophobic employee (who plays the whole thing with an earnest intensity), and a bitchy co-worker.
There are also heartfelt bits about ageism in the workplace, which should strike a very resonant chord for anyone over 50 who suddenly gets labelled under the “diversity” banner.
The cinematography is excellent, and Ivana Baquero, who some will remember from Guillermo del Toro masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth, is a terrific heroine. At half the length and with some tighter editing, this would have worked a treat, but as long as you leave your brain in neutral, it’s almost that fun ride promised in the opening titles.