Black Friday – Grimmfest Presents Xmas Horror Nights 2021 Review

Black Friday is the inevitable zombie film set on, well, Black Friday—for those lucky people who don’t know, that’s a day of massive store sales that’s usually the fourth Friday in November. It used be strictly a US thing, but it has now infected most of the developed world. There was another film set on Black Friday last year, and with the same name, but that was a much smaller film—so this is the first major feature. But I’m sure there will be more to come, because the whole thing is a real-life horror show, often featuring deaths connected to shopping (so far there have been over 20).

The film is set in We Love Toys, which is clearly based on Toys “R” Us, where a group of employees eventually have to fight off a horde of parasitic zomboid creatures. Boss Jonathon, played by Bruce Campbell (who was also a co-producer), leads the group as a happy, sales pep-chat type, and the rest is exactly what you’d expect.

It’s a lot of fun, but not great—it could have used a lot more Bruce Campbell, but then so could any film. The special effects are pretty good, as Robert Kurtzman is in charge (he and Campbell go back to Evil Dead II). The mutant creatures are slightly Lovecraftian, perhaps alien, beings that are zombie-like but can be killed with the right technique. The film has in its favour a lot of practical effects, which are becoming rarer and rarer in these kinds of films.

The other main lead is Devon Sawa, who viewers may recognise from Final Destination, accompanied by Ivana Banquero (the now grown-up star of Pan’s Labyrinth) and a cast of character actors playing the co-workers and others who die along the way. The satire is pretty obvious. There have been a lot of these jokes over the past 40 years, and better—it’s no Dawn of the Dead, which was a much more biting satire on consumerism than this is. But it helps that the cast are pretty good, and Campbell’s boss does a decent speech about how fake the day’s sale plan is (what seems to be marked down is actually marked up, as anyone who is familiar with Black Friday already knows). It also has a slightly Breakfast Club vibe at times, because they are all stuck together in one place and their troubles all come out for discussion.

The result is a perfectly enjoyable film, and I have to give them credit for coming out with the first legit Black Friday zombie film. How did that take so long? I’m sure it will become a holiday favourite for many gorehounds out there.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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