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.