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  Black Friday Superstore Supergore
Year: 2021
Director: Casey Tebo
Stars: Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, Ryan Lee, Stephen Peck, Michael Jai White, Bruce Campbell, Louie Kurtzmann, Celeste Oliva, Ellen Colton, Peg Holzemer, Mark Steger, Andria Blackman, Mike Murphy, Christopher Mikael, Stanley Bruno, Lonnie Farmer
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Working on Thanksgiving is not everyone's idea of a great way to spend the holidays, but the employees of the local toy superstore must follow their boss's orders if they want to get paid, and indeed not get the sack. For Ken Bates (Devon Sawa), this means dropping his two daughters off at his ex-wife's place, much to the girls' dismay, and heading for a long shift since the doors open at midnight for the sales bargains of Black Friday. Meanwhile Chris Godecki (Ryan Lee) is not too unhappy not to be spending a meal with his cantankerous father, though the alternative - working to the small hours - may not be what he had in mind as preferable. But what nobody in the store knows is that a meteorite has landed in a storeroom out the back...

There's nothing especially wrong with the horror concept of consumers turned into monsters, indeed the first one to get to grips with it was George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead which presented its shoppers as the literal undead, mindlessly going through the motions of the buying they enjoyed while alive. And you just have to look at the clips of real life shoppers on Black Friday in America to appreciate their rabid need to pick up as many bargains as humanly possibly could be tweaked into a horror scenario, as they are practically an angry mob from the get go. Therefore what director Casey Tebo was offering here was nothing really new in the great scheme of things, but that need not necessarily be a bad thing, more has been done with less, after all.

Maybe the trouble with Andy Gereskoviak's screenplay was that it came across as complacent, falling back on the working stiffs cliches that had been set out by Mike Judge's cult favourite Office Space to bulk up a very familiar plot of the apocalypse hitting suburban America, rendering this somewhat stale. What it did have in its favour was a cast who went the extra mile to inject some energy and personality into a premise that, for instance, knowing store employees are not allowed to insult the customers to their faces, will have the characters swear their heads off and slag off the visitors behind their backs, then expect us to be on the employees' side. This was assuming you had ever had a shit job you couldn't wait to escape from, and would recognise what the movie was alluding to in the world of low pay, high anxiety workforces.

That, to be fair, was very possible, but assumed there was no crossover between harassed shopworkers and harried customers. Anyway, aside from some impassioned speeches cropping up every so often to get our sympathies for Ken and Chris and the rest, what was the horror element like? Pleasingly, Tebo used a lot of practical effects, so when the shoppers and unfortunate staff were transformed into zombies by the space virus, there was plenty of goo and gore to go around in the nineteen-eighties fashion this was happy to evoke memories of. Back at the cast, Sawa had never become the breakout star Final Destination suggested he might, but he had built up a solid CV and was fine as the possible hero, possible loser (no one is sure). Also there was Ivan Baquero, forever to be known as the little girl from Pan's Labyrinth, acquitting herself nicely as Ken's not really girlfriend, and for cult movie fans, the dream team of Michael Jai White and Bruce Campbell, though alas they did not share many scenes together to interact. By no means a disaster (apart from plotwise, natch), it was undemanding but fair. Music by Patrick Stump.

[Signature Entertainment presents Black Friday on Digital Platforms 11th February 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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