Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Gnarly alien violence meets fast-paced zombie action in the new horror/comedy Black Friday, from producer Bruce Campbell. During an opening scene in which crazy customers bang on the window as if they are zombies, the obvious (but hilarious) commentary on capitalism is already present. Wearing Alien inspirations on its sleeve, a pulsating purple sack falls from the sky in an extraterrestrial meteor shower from hell. Armed with the comfort of a holiday bonus “when you clock out at 6,” a group of overworked employees at We Love Toys is about to experience one Black Friday they will never forget…

Seeing Devon Sawa back in action in the horror genre has been a real treat, between this film and the new SyFy series, Chucky. The Chucky connection goes slightly deeper, as Curse of Chucky has a special cameo on one of the TVs. I have been a big fan of Sawa since the 90s, and he does not disappoint. He plays a loving dad named Ken in the middle of a divorce, forced to work on Thanksgiving. “All heroes work on the holidays,” he insists to his son. Throughout the night, Ken must take charge and team up with other employees to have any hope of making it through the night alive. Equally good is Bruce Campbell, playing against type as the bumbling store manager Jonathan. I was so used to Campbell playing badass characters like Ash from the Evil Dead films that his affinity to being involved “on the salesfloor” took me by surprise. This is 40’s Ryan Lee, Spawn’s Michael Jai White, and Pan’s Labyrinth lead Ivana Baquero fill out the colorful cast. 

The eventual chemistry between the characters makes the whole working-together-to-stop-the-apocalypse of it all less predictable than normal, or maybe just sweeter. How can one dwell in the negatives when the movie is having so much fun? The script from Andy Greskoviak is sharp and witty—I laughed out loud more than once. Corporate said Black Friday was racist, so at We Love Toys, they call it “Green Friday,” a further capitalist nudge about the radioactive green of dollar bills. When the zombie insanity begins, one character remarks, “this is some next level bath salts shit.”

As someone who works in customer service, I can tell you that even though the saying is that “the customer is always right,” they most certainly are not. Some are purposefully manipulative, vile, and in this case, some are literally evil. The fantastic practical gore effects and transformation sequences in this film are applause-worthy. The white band that shoots out to “inject” parasites gave me the creeps. My favorite of all is a giant monster amalgamation of dead shoppers, a beautiful visual treat. While Black Friday is definitely not a perfect movie, I had a blast watching every nasty kill, as well as these silly characters interacting with one another. I can see it quickly becoming a cult classic mall-set zombie feast that one will want to revisit for their yearly holiday traditions.

Black Friday clocks in when it debuts in theaters on November 19th, and on demand on November 23rd.

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