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Fantastic Fest Exclusive Review: ‘Black Friday’ Brings Zombies to America’s Most Capitalist Holiday

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Fantastic Fest Exclusive Review: 'Black Friday' Brings Zombies to America's Most Capitalist Holiday

On September 24th, 2021 I was given the amazing opportunity to see the first official viewing of Black Friday. The film is a fast paced holiday horror zombie flick, starring Ryan Lee, Michael Jai White, Ivana Baquero, Devon Sawa, and Bruce Campbell as a group of toy store employees fighting off a black Friday mob turned into zombies.

I feel it is important to note that this was a high budget idea done on a small budget level. That, paired with the fact that it was made during the pandemic, is a pretty impressive feat.

Casey Tebo really makes the idea of the zombie his own here, making them much more creature-like and other worldly. The practical effects in this film are a huge selling point for any gorehound and horror fan who can appreciate Lovecraftian esc creatures and monsters. It takes the idea of a zombie film a step beyond and makes it into a larger than life creature that mirrors the blob, Godzilla, and some shit Trevor Henderson would draw. And that’s honestly one of my favorite parts of this film, the visuals. There are so many scenes where the lighting, sets, cinematography, makeup, and monster designs all keep your eyes on the screen.

The film’s writing was very hit or miss, as some of the jokes fell quite flat and felt like they only warranted a laugh because Bruce Campbell said it. That’s the case for many of the one liners in this film. However, there were quite a few jokes and lines that I found hilarious. The film also has quite a bit of heart, especially in its emotional climax with the characters. I also really enjoyed the fun and comedic commentary on the state of capitalist America and corporate treatment of wage workers. A sad but necessary message that’s presented in an endearing, fun, and relatable way.

Black Friday 2021 Star Bruce Campbell

Speaking of characters, this film has a fantastic ensemble cast. Everyone in the film has at least a moment or two to shine. They all have a problem or grievance that makes them who they are, and they all have some level of relatability. They all feel like someone that you would meet on a shift at a department store. Writer Andy Geskroviak did a great job making the characters people you can sympathize with, even the meanest and biggest dickheads in the movie have heart and reason to their character, something I feel isn’t done well enough in horror that I really appreciate seeing here.

One of my biggest critiques for the film is that it feels like it doesn’t really hit its potential. This could have been a balls to the walls violent zombie film in a toy store on Black Friday. Instead the unique setting is hardly used uniquely and feels like just any other store. I’m fine with what we got, but there is definitely room for more and a lot to be desired.

Overall, 2021’s Black Friday is an enjoyable watch, one I’ll be sure to come back to every season despite it’s issues. Lots of great body horror and makeup effects, and some genuinely tense and even emotional moments. Plus, who doesn’t love Bruce Campbell?

Black Friday will be in theaters and VOD November 2021. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@JacobAtTheMovie) for more horror film news, reviews, and discussions.

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