What better day than Black Friday for an alien parasite to crash to earth turning bargain-hungry shoppers into flesh eating mutants? While COVID-19 and online shopping may have been the death knells for the “busiest shopping day of the Christmas season”, many of us still remember the absolute madness that was (and in a few places still is) Black Friday.
Director Casey Tebo’s horror comedy, fittingly titled “Black Friday”, takes its above-mentioned nutty concept and runs with it. Written by Andy Greskoviak, the story centers on a group of disgruntled toy store workers forced to work Thanksgiving evening as hordes of Black Friday shoppers line up across the front and around the corner of the store. Little do they know an alien parasite has made its way to earth. Soon the blood-thirsty shoppers are turning into blood-thirsty zombie-like mutants, leaving the employees to fight for their lives.
The characters mostly consist of a blend of personalities and the movie follows the familiar “who will survive” blueprint. Devon Sawa plays Ken, a divorced father of two who’s stuck in a go-nowhere job. Marnie (Ivana Baquero) is a young disillusioned clerk. Archie (Michael Jai White) is the brawny maintenance man. Chris (Ryan Lee) is a germaphobe still living with his parents. There’s the new guy Emmett (Louie Kurtzman). And running the store is regional manager Jonathan (the great Bruce Campbell) and Brian (Stephen Peck), Jonathan’s overly enthusiastic lackey in charge of the sales floor.
There’s not a lot in “Black Friday” that will catch you by surprise. We’ve seen variations of this kind of story several times before. The big difference here is the setting and a gooey alien parasite which is brought to life via some pretty cool makeup and practical effects. The problem is the movie never fully embraces the goofiness of its premise. Things starts off on a fun and silly note, but the humor gets a little more sporadic in the second half. The film never takes itself seriously. It simply doesn’t take the absurdity as far as it needs to.
It also never builds any real tension to speak of. It’s not that the story needs a lot. But when you dial back the humor you need something to take it’s place. As a result “Black Friday” sits and spins its wheels in the second half, seemingly unsure of how far to take things. We’re left with a middling and sadly forgettable horror comedy featuring not enough horror and not enough comedy. Still, it’s an entertaining premise and the cast are all onboard. That’s enough to keep your attention, but not enough to stick in your memory. “Black Friday” is now available on VOD.