Just in time for the Christmas rush, Black Friday was released in theaters on Friday, November 19th and via streaming services on November 23rd through Screen Media Films. Directed by the Emmy award winning Casey Tebo, it features a soundtrack by Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, as well as a strong cast of that includes Horror legend Bruce Campbell plus Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, Ryan Lee, Stephen Peck, Michael Jai White, and even an appearance from Seth Green. Chucked full names and a catchy film title, is it glittery red-bowed cinematic Horror surprise of 2021?
A Sci-Fi/Horror mix, the film features an apocalyptic twist on the traditional Black Friday shopping fracas. The backdrop is a toy store where a motley crew of store employees are busy adding finishing touches for the store’s Black Friday midnight opening. As we all know, for better or worse, Black Friday signals the onset of the Christmas shopping season and is the most buzzing time of the year. One can easily imagine retailers rubbing their hands together in anticipation and chuckling with glee as they envision an endless row of greenbacks that gyrate Rockette style and single file into bank accounts to the tune of The O’Jays “For the Love of Money.”
This is the mindset of Black Friday’s toy store manager, Jonathan (Bruce Campbell: The Evil Dead 1981, Ash vs Evil Dead series) as he gives his annual pep talk to his crew. Flawlessly portrayed by the always humorous Campbell, you are immediately convinced that Jonathan is nothing more than a corporate puppet hellbent on making record sales.
Meanwhile, the employees, embittered at having to work Black Friday mentally brace themselves for hours of perpetual retail hell. This pessimistic attitude runs rampant despite uplifting the Christmas Carols that boom from speakers. These images provide insightful cues on the gloomy dark mood that kicks off the movie.
Among the staff is Brian (Stephen Peck: Eating Out: Drama Camp 2011, The Night is Young 2017), a lackey assistant manager who embodies all the dislikable and annoying traits of such an individual. Then there is Chris (Ryan Lee: Super 8 2011, Goosebumps 2015), a nerdy germaphobe who works hard at overcoming his fears and struggles. Additionally there is Archie (Michael Jai White: Spawn 1997, Black Dynamite 2009), a headstrong man who does not shy away from on getting the job done, Ken (Devon Sawa: Idle Hands 1999, Final Destination 2000) who strives to make a bad situation more palatable by an IV infusion of humor despite his personality flaws, and his love interest Marnie (Ivana Baquero: Pan’s Labyrinth 2006, The Shannara Chronicles series) who does her best to keep things realistic and on an even keel.
Not business as usual, as the wee hours dash by, the sour mood of the staff is replaced by incredulity and fear as customers transform into a different sort. The divisory line between management and staff dissipates as they roll up their sleeves to battle the monstrosity at hand for a chance to live another day. The question is, who will remain standing at the end of the night?
Overall, Black Friday will keep even the most rambunctious person riveted to the screen. In fact, it will keep you open-mouthed and in a state of suspense as the story continues to gather momentum. A fun worthy addition to the Holiday Horror genre, Cryptic Rock gives this film 4 out of 5 stars.