Movie Review: “Black Friday” (2021)


We have all heard of the horrors of working retail on Black Friday, and some television series, like “Superstore,” have depicted the event. What the Cloud 9 employees did not have to deal with, however, was an alien invasion. That’s right, what if it wasn’t just Black Friday, but there was also an alien invasion occurring at the same time? What would that look like? Director Casey Tebo and writer We have all heard of the horrors of working retail on Black Friday, and some television series, like “Superstore,” have depicted the event. What the Cloud 9 employees did not have to deal with, however, was an alien invasion. That’s right, what if it wasn’t just Black Friday, but there was also an alien invasion occurring at the same time? What would that look like? Director Casey Tebo and writer Andy Greskoviak offer one potential view with the new film, unsurprisingly titled, “Black Friday.”

Focusing on a toy store, this movie sees a meteor shower bringing in some distinctly unfriendly alien life. With an unclear larger purpose, the aliens in Tebo’s film function, essentially, like zombies, including the if-they-bite-you-you-turn-into-one rule (how that might work with alien life, I don’t quite know).

It is a simple setup, but an effective one as we watch the misfit store employees—these include Ken (Devon Sawa), Chris (Ryan Lee), Archie (Michael Jai White), Marnie (Ivana Baquero), Brian (Stephen Peck), and Jonathan (Bruce Campbell)—do their best to survive the night and escape the store. You know, like a regular black Friday, but with much higher stakes (well, depending on your need to take home PS5 this year).

The truth is that the surprises here in the movie are few and far between, with Greskoviak’s script offering up stock types of employees, from those who care too much to those who care too little and lots of folks dealing with generic, albeit important to them, family stuff outside of work as well. The corporation is a terrible one, the employees treated like garbage in general, and too many people are on power trips in their own little corners of the corporate world.

And yet, for all its uninspired trappings, “Black Friday” is still rather successful. Sawa ably leads the cast with the rest of the ensemble often getting their turns in fun moments. Unfortunately, Baquero (and the other female employees) feel underutilized. In a movie with generic characters, the woman tend to be even less well rounded.

While this may not work wonders for the humans on screen, keeping the alien menace less than unique proves a good strategy. In a movie that runs roughly 80 minutes, there is little need to spend time on what the aliens want and why when they are left as rather mindless zombie-esque inventions. Yes, they might be building something in the store, but it’s not terribly relevant to the audience or the characters – we just want to see which employees make it through to the credits and which do not (and how).

At the risk of damning “Black Friday” with faint praise, the movie is perfectly serviceable. It is a quick, amusing, little thing that will probably put a smile or two on the face of anyone who has ever worked in a customer-facing position or been beaten down by a corporate overlord (or maybe attacked by aliens too?). It may not offer a lot of insight or anything particularly new or fresh, but in mashing up two different ideas—1)retail, particularly on holidays, is hell and 2) aliens are coming to kill us—it makes one, slightly disgusting but undeniably fun, day in the coal mines.

offer one potential view with the new film, unsurprisingly titled, “Black Friday.”

Focusing on a toy store, this movie sees a meteor shower bringing in some distinctly unfriendly alien life. With an unclear larger purpose, the aliens in Tebo’s film function, essentially, like zombies, including the if-they-bite-you-you-turn-into-one rule (how that might work with alien life, I don’t quite know).

It is a simple setup, but an effective one as we watch the misfit store employees—these include Ken (Devon Sawa), Chris (Ryan Lee), Archie (Michael Jai White), Marnie (Ivana Baquero), Brian (Stephen Peck), and Jonathan (Bruce Campbell)—do their best to survive the night and escape the store. You know, like a regular black Friday, but with much higher stakes (well, depending on your need to take home PS5 this year).

The truth is that the surprises here in the movie are few and far between, with Greskoviak’s script offering up stock types of employees, from those who care too much to those who care too little and lots of folks dealing with generic, albeit important to them, family stuff outside of work as well. The corporation is a terrible one, the employees treated like garbage in general, and too many people are on power trips in their own little corners of the corporate world.

And yet, for all its uninspired trappings, “Black Friday” is still rather successful. Sawa ably leads the cast with the rest of the ensemble often getting their turns in fun moments. Unfortunately, Baquero (and the other female employees) feel underutilized. In a movie with generic characters, the woman tend to be even less well rounded.

While this may not work wonders for the humans on screen, keeping the alien menace less than unique proves a good strategy. In a movie that runs roughly 80 minutes, there is little need to spend time on what the aliens want and why when they are left as rather mindless zombie-esque inventions. Yes, they might be building something in the store, but it’s not terribly relevant to the audience or the characters – we just want to see which employees make it through to the credits and which do not (and how).

At the risk of damning “Black Friday” with faint praise, the movie is perfectly serviceable. It is a quick, amusing, little thing that will probably put a smile or two on the face of anyone who has ever worked in a customer-facing position or been beaten down by a corporate overlord (or maybe attacked by aliens too?). It may not offer a lot of insight or anything particularly new or fresh, but in mashing up two different ideas—1)retail, particularly on holidays, is hell and 2) aliens are coming to kill us—it makes one, slightly disgusting but undeniably fun, day in the coal mines.

photo credit: Screen Media Films



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