‘They have no idea what tonight has in-store’
Black Friday is a 2021 American comedy horror film about disgruntled toy store employees who have to battle shoppers on the titular dumb day. Worse, the shoppers have been transformed into monstrous, vulture-like creatures by a mysterious alien parasite!
Directed by Casey Tebo (Happy Birthday) from a screenplay written by Andy Greskoviak. Produced by Bruce Campbell and Warner Davis.
The Warner Davis Company MFW Productions movie stars Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead franchise), Devon Sawa (Hunter, Hunter; Final Destination), Michael Jai White (Spawn), Ivana Baquero (Pan’s Labyrinth), Ryan Lee and Stephen Peck.
“Everyone knows Black Friday is the worst day to work in retail. Something about a good deal turns even the sanest consumer into a wild animal. But the usual chaos and violence pale in comparison to what the employees of the “We Love Toys” store must face this time around.
Devon Sawa stars as a down-on-his-luck father in the midst of a divorce, lamenting his job as a low-level toy store employee. He and the other rambunctious, overworked crew of staffers are prepared for a typically exhausting Black Friday full of shoppers hungry for a deal, but they could never have expected the shoppers to turn into blood-hungry maniacs with only one goal: Come together to feed and combine their powers into something full-on Lovecraftian.
While Sawa continues his successful renaissance in the genre world with a refreshing turn as the cynical leader of the employees, it’s the inimitable Bruce Campbell who really surprises as the bumbling, uptight manager, Jonathan: a decidedly less heroic character than we’ve come to expect from him. Add in a healthy splash of outrageous gore and some ooey-gooey creature effects, and this is the soon-to-be-cult holiday horror movie you never knew you needed.
Casey Tebo’s horror-comedy is delightfully entertaining, witty, and easily the best commentary on the dark side of capitalism since Dawn of the Dead. ‘We hope you find the deals you’re looking for this Black Friday, shoppers!'”
In a statement to Variety, Casey Tebo said: “When Andy sent me this script, it was such a blast! It reminded me of some of my favourite holiday horror movies like Gremlins or Krampus. I could see myself running to a midnight showing to see this with other horror fans, and at the same time, I could see my kids watching it at a sleepover with their friends. It’s imaginative, original, scary, fun, and the right bit of ridiculous – and that’s all the things I want to see in a movie!”
Devon Sawa told Bloody Disgusting: “We’ve relied on old-fashioned filmmaking. Robert Kurtzman, the SFX team, has all prosthetics. It’s like you walk onto where we’re shooting and there’s rooms of like heads, and a whole team of people painting, and we got hydraulic bubbles. I’m sure there’s going to be a few where they’re gonna have to do CGI because there’s some car throwing and all this stuff, but we’re back in old school prosthetic world.”
” …obvious, predictable and corny. It’s unclear how you squander a setting as rife with potential as a toy store, but Black Friday manages to do just that. This isn’t to say that it’s without merit, as anyone who wants to see Campbell and Sawa go toe-to-toe against Black Friday alien mutants will find something to enjoy here.” Bloody Disgusting
“While it’s great to see practical zombie effects, the filmmakers don’t really do much with the monsters that we haven’t seen before […] At the core of Black Friday is a deep, icy anger over capitalism and shopping, with the employees bemoaning their dead-end, soul-sucking jobs […] However, the movie is not only a little too pointed with its theme, it also fails to offer any alternate ideas, let alone any hope, or heart.” Combustible Celluloid
“Overall, the film feels as if it just needed more time in pre-production to sharpen up the script and rehearse – but if you have a soft spot for monster movies and like the idea of gore in a superstore, this could still work for you. It’s an amiable little film and you could do a lot worse.” Eye for Film
“The story and situation occurring in the shop lends itself so perfectly for a silly and over-the-top giggle fest and the restrained approach kills the sense of fun. On the other side of the coin, the more serious moments don’t land well either due to the outlandish scenario unfolding. Balancing a horror-comedy is one of the hardest genres to nail, most films opt to pick a side, but Black Friday flounders around in the middle…” The Hollywood News
“Black Friday throws some monster action at you, provides some laughs, you get to hear a good score composed by Patrick Stump and get to see some nice special effects, then it lets you get on your way before it has taken up too much of your time: only 79 minutes go by before the end credits start rolling. It wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, but it’s fun enough for a viewing or two.” JoBlo
” …almost nothing is done with the film’s general conceit of mindless shoppers acting just a hair more mindless as they become creatures out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The script by Andy Greskoviak nods to the fact that no one should really have to leave their family during Thanksgiving dinner to sell overpriced toys […] but the film lacks teeth. It’s too content with its premise to really do anything with it…” RogerEbert.com
“There is a lot of pop-philosophical chatter […] plenty of nasty comeuppances served to jackasses who mistreat denizens of the “service industry,” and enough alien goo and gore to make The Blob (1988) helmer Chuck Russell blush. Is it a teeny bit heavy-handed? Sure! But the trends it satirizes are so gauche and overblown that it feels appropriate, and the ensemble cast […] is so easy to root for that a little bit of easy moralizing amid the carnage fits the vibe.” Rue Morgue
“Ultimately, Black Friday is an idea more than a story. Sometimes this benefits the film; the action sequences are fun to watch, and the special effects are perfect for this kind of intentionally campy horror movie […] In terms of mindless entertainment, Black Friday checks the right boxes. Unfortunately, the movie also tries to have a message, and in that regard, it completely fails.” Screen Rant
Production and release:
Filming began in Boston on November 16th 2020.
Black Friday had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on Friday, September 24th 2021.
In the US, Black Friday will be released theatrically on November 19th and On-Demand on November 23rd 2021.
MOVIES and MANIA says:
Given the great cast and the obvious opportunities for combining mockery of chaotic consumerism, retail Hell and monster mayhem, Black Friday is – surprisingly – merely an ok movie that raises a few smiles but never any fear or real sense of involvement in the outcome. Unfortunately, like the shopper silliness it’s named after, Black Friday is fairly superficial. It’s enjoyable but don’t expect too much from what was such a promising premise.