A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie has no love for consumerism or capitalism, both in terms of underpaid, underappreciated workers and the emphasis on shopping and spending. It takes a deeply cynical view of these things but offers no alternative or hope.
Positive Role Models
Characters are all pretty deeply flawed and not especially admirable, but a few step up and show courage when it counts, demonstrating teamwork as they band together to survive.
Of seven characters who survive the longest, three are White males, two are women, two are Black. It's implied through behavior based in stereotype that one character may identify as queer, but it's never discussed directly. One woman is played by Ivana Baquero, who's from Spain, but no mention is ever made of her cultural identity. A character's fear of germs is played for laughs.
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Violence & Scariness
Characters die in bloody ways. Blood spurts, pierced neck. Monsters and creatures attack, eat brains, etc. Monsters shot with nail gun, stabbed in eye, stabbed with broken bottle, stabbed with forklift, hit with chairs, skateboards, wrenches, etc. Entrails and blood spatter on floor. Gory body parts, decimated bodies. Gross-out humor includes monsters spitting icky stuff on characters' faces, vomiting blue-green gunk, etc. Gory, creepy FX. Character swatted away by giant monster. Woman punches a man.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Strong sex-related dialogue. A sexual gesture. Flirting. A "granny" zombie is seen with naked breasts, though they aren't meant to look human and don't look at all real.
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Strong, frequent language includes "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "p---y," "a--hole," "bitch," "d--kless," "goddamn," "hell," "pissed," "douche," "boner," "friggin'," "idiot," "sucks," "loser," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).
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Products & Purchases
Brands shown incidentally on store shelves include Razor, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Playmobil, and more. Duncan yo-yos mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink from a flask. A main character is referred to as a "drunk" and keeps a secret stash in the bathroom. Another character drinks sparkling wine from the bottle.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Black Friday is a horror-comedy set at midnight on Thanksgiving, when a pack of shoppers at a toy store become zombie-like monsters. It has everything in place for a genre classic but instead comes across as a bit too tired and downbeat. Expect lots of gory horror violence, with zombies eating humans and humans attacking zombies, and plenty of blood (some of it played for laughs). Monsters are stabbed, and body parts and entrails are shown. Language is also strong, with frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," etc. There's some sex-related dialogue and sexual gestures, as well as a "granny" zombie with visible (but very fake-looking) naked breasts. A main character drinks from a flask, tries to get his "secret stash," and is called a "drunk." Other characters briefly drink as well. Zombie movie cult fave Bruce Campbell co-stars. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The elements are here for a memorable, re-watchable holiday horror-comedy, but despite the practical FX and genre fave Campbell, it feels a little too low-energy and depressing to be fun. The cast of Black Friday is all fine. Clad in a sweater, overalls, and Santa hat, Sawa makes a brawny, Han Solo-type tough guy; White is a capable hero, wielding a nailgun like a soldier; Baquero (all grown up since Pan's Labyrinth) is a plucky voice of reason; Lee provides comic relief; and Peck's character takes his tiny amount of power extremely seriously. On the other hand, Campbell, who's usually an effortless scene-stealer, can't seem to find the through line that would make Jonathan funny; his jokes only land sporadically.
While it's great to see practical zombie effects, the filmmakers don't really do much with the monsters that genre fans haven't seen before. They snarl and jump out and bite, but not much else. It's only at about the two-thirds mark that an idea comes together, but then it just kind of sits there. At the core of Black Friday is a deep, icy anger about capitalism and shopping, with the employees bemoaning their dead-end, soul-sucking jobs -- and with Campbell praising the whole evil scheme of the Black Friday "sales" -- and the customers coming across as both literal and figurative monsters. (Even the season's hottest toy, "Dour Dennis," is a sad creature.) But the movie isn't just a little too pointed with its theme; it also fails to offer any alternate ideas, let alone any hope or heart.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.