Black Friday review

By David Dent

It’s Thanksgiving (which Americans always conflate with Christmas) and the superstores of the USA are preparing for, as one worker puts it, the “friggin’ vultures” who queue outside at silly o’clock to snap up those Black Friday bargains.

Over at We Love Toys store manager Jonathan Wexler (a bowtie and cardigan sporting Bruce Campbell) is preparing his workers for the busiest night of the year. The staff include Ken (Devon Sawa), who is pissed that he has to work on the night of the holiday while his kids get to have a slap up Thanksgiving dinner at home with his ex-wife and her lame boyfriend; tough final girl in waiting Marnie (Ivana Baquero), with whom Ken is having a bit of a thing despite being twenty years older than her; cleanliness freak Chris (Ryan Lee); employee of the month Anita (Celeste Olivier); and uber bossy bitchy team leader Brian (Stephen Peck).

But this shopping event is going to be rather different. In a neighbouring warehouse a gigantic blob, presumably alien but unexplained, overcomes and mutates some of the workers there. And by the time We Love Toys is open for business the whole district has been overwhelmed with infected shoppers. And they’re headed for Jonathan and his team.

“There’s something wrong with the shoppers” remarks a character at one point, which is probably the understatement of the year. Director Casey Tebo (who seems to have cut his teeth directing Aerosmith promotional videos) has great fun pitching the mutated hordes (well twenty or so of them anyway, the budget’s pretty slim) against the disparate and disgruntled staff of the toy store, who predictably overcome their differences, utilising pretty much anything in the store in the fight against the infected townsfolk.

The practical effects are the star here, a homage to DTV 1980s latex FX classics (and the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ nods are clear and present), and if the script and overall narrative are sometimes a bit scrappy and inconclusive, the film is saved by some dry performances and an increasing sense of mayhem, building to an impressively fiery climax.

Black Friday screens as part of Grimmfest’s Christmas Horror Nights on Friday 10th December 2021.

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