It’s the busiest shopping day of the year – Black Friday! At the We Love Toys store, the workers are dreading another chaotic night of dealing with aggressive shoppers looking for great deals and prepared to fight for bargains. They’re all missing out on their Thanksgiving dinners to ready the store and stock the shelves. It’s not much of holiday for them. When the doors open at midnight it will be a night of madness.
This year Black Friday comes with a twist for this batch of retail workers. As luck would have it a meteorite hits this small town and with it brings some kind of virus that infects folks and turns into monsterous type of attacking zombie creatures. Now these retail workers will have to literally beat back these ghastly customers and surviving this night is much more literal than they ever could have anticipated.
Much like George Romero used his zombies to to symbolize mindless consumerism in his 1978 horror classic Dawn of the Dead, Black Friday takes a similar take. It’s a really fun premise. The idea of average retail workers battling zombies in a toy store – come on, this sounds like it can be fun B-movie. That’s all I was hoping for.
Unfortunately, Black Friday runs out of steam quite fast and rather being a hoot of a holiday horror movie, turns into quite a forgettable flick.
The setup doesn’t take long. We meet the employees who are an eclectic batch of misfit retail associates. The three main characters are Ken (Devon Sawa), a jaded middle-aged retail worker who tries to act younger than he is, Marnie (Ivana Baquero) who has flirted with Ken, Chris (Ryan Lee) a beleaguered twenty-something.
From there the characters range from happy do-gooders to jaded employees. You don’t have to worry about them much. The only other two standouts are Bruce Campbell as the cowardly store manager just trying to steer the ship through this evening of mad shoppers and hoping his employees won’t mind having unpaid breaks for the night. And Michael Jai White who gets to exercise the most fun zombie/alien kills in the movie.
You won’t find any characters to care about or gravitate to. You hope for in a movie like this you’re rooting for at least one person to survive. With Black Friday I didn’t care if all the characters got swallowed up by this alien membrane that is growing or whatever it is.
There isn’t much to crow about with the attacking and trapped scenes. It’s very by the numbers and there’s nothing notable about them. The same for the kills. Other than a nail gun White uses, that’s about as interesting as it gets. He also gets the most memorable cheesy one-liner out of the movie.
On the upside, the makeup on the batch of infected customers is effective and makes them look creepy and gruesome. It’s just too bad they don’t get more entertaining scenes for them to showcase in.
I went in thinking this will have a streak of humor running through it to keep it lively. We all love Campbell and his brand of humor, especially in the horror/comedy genre as Ash in the Evil Dead series, has made him a legend. Don’t go in thinking you’ll see him in a similar heroic misfit role. Here, he’s fully embracing the role of the cowardly inept store manager. He has a few good lines and reactions, but I certainly was hoping from more not only from him, but the entire film as a whole.
The movie really starts to crawl along, in some cases it comes to a dead stop. I actually was getting bored. And the fact that we’re meant to be trapped in a toy store with zombie aliens running around it’s almost unforgivable. There should be A LOT of stuff happening.
The movie escalates to such a bizarre climax that I was completely checked out. It’s meant to be a big finale, but it ends up quite ridiculous. I was just hoping for some entertaining scenes of retail employees fighting zombies down aisles of toys. That would have been plenty for me. A giant mutated monster towering over the toy store was too much for my taste.
Black Friday could have been an annual cult flick fans would tune into on Thanksgiving. There’s really not a lot of Thanksgiving set films that we have on yearly rotation. There was potential for a real fun campy movie here. It’s a shame the humor didn’t land, the characters were as bland as bland could be and the zombie thrills didn’t come. Black Friday ends up being very unsatisfying and disappointing.
The trailer makes it look much more exciting than it is – it is a very effective trailer. Don’t fall for it!