There is something to the magic of a Holiday movie mixed with horror. Maybe it’s the crossing of tones – that a character faced with near-death finds value in the family dynamic that is clearly dysfunctional. Or, maybe putting Bruce Campbell in a big box store fighting horrific monsters just works for cinematic enjoyment. Whatever the cause, Black Friday (2021), directed by Casey Tebo, will easily fit into your Thanksgiving Day movie watchlist, so long as B-Horror works for you.
It’s Thanksgiving night, and the employees arrive at their big-box toy store in preparation for the Black Friday sales. However, an alien parasite has crashed onto Earth and these disgruntled employees’ holiday. The customer is almost always right…until they’re trying to kill you. Led by their boss, Jonathan (Campbell) – Ken (Devon Sawa), Archie (Michael Jai White), and the employees look to fight their way out alive.
If you have ever had the displeasure of working retail on Black Friday, then you know how cathartic movies like this can be. In some ways, the film reminds me of Clerks (1994) in its apathetic frustration with the customer and their crazy demands. Although this dynamic shifts quickly into a monster movie, it still triggers that reaction, and these characters really get to let these monsters know what they think.
The characters are definitely one of the areas that help make this film enjoyable. You are rooting for the familiar actors, but Chris (Ryan Lee) and Marnie (Ivana Baquero) really won me over. Of course, Jonathan is a highlight, as Campbell is a master of establishing the tone for films like this – but the core of the story falls on Chris and Marnie. The talent in their performances makes them easy to root for, and the simple set-ups and pay-off work to move the story along.
The visual effects on the majority of the creatures are solid. There are a few moments that don’t quite look as strong, but that is most likely due to budget. Still, the creatures and the sounds they make are creepy enough to give the horror edge to the mostly comedic holiday film. There are some disgusting moments thrown in that add to the experience.
Black Friday is an engaging horror comedy up there with Krampus…well, close at least. There is enough here to make this a recurring Thanksgiving Day film on a holiday that is certainly lacking movie options. The movie earns the Decent Watch rating and will likely find its way to my TV in future holiday seasons.