BARE BONES: BLACK FRIDAY (2021)

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BLACK FRIDAY (2021)

Black Friday takes place on the most dreaded shopping day of the year for retail employees. Crazed customers are the least of the worries for the staff of the We Love Toys store, though, as a meteor shower has brought an extraterrestrial organism to Earth, one that takes over and assimilates other lifeforms, so it may grow. Now the embattled staff must fend off the worst kind of customer…alien-controlled zombie shoppers!

Flick is sadly a ho-hum effort directed routinely by Casey Tebo from a script by Andy Greskoviak. The premise could have been a lot of fun if they took the ball and ran with it, but a lot of it is the cast sitting around and bemoaning their fate while talking about their own personal issues. The characters are colorful, but all underused, such as Bruce Campbell’s retail nerd, store manager Jonathan, Ryan Lee’s hyper clean-freak Chris and Ivana Baquero’s sexy, spunky Marnie. Even Devon Sawa’s hero Ken is kind of bland. The film is supposed to be a horror comedy, but is neither funny enough to satisfy us with laughs, nor scary enough to satisfy the horror elements. The zombies are routine, despite their alien origin, and only the climatic full-size alien is somewhat interesting. FX range from some decent make-up and gore to cheesy CGI.

A sad disappointment, as anyone who has retail experience and has worked this dreaded event, knows this could have been a blast of fun and a welcome satirical look at retail’s biggest shopping day, had it been in more creative and enthusiastic hands. The opening credits of Krampus accomplishes this far better than this entire movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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REVIEW: HUNTER HUNTER (2020)

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HUNTER HUNTER (2020)

Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa) lives deep in the wilderness as a fur trapper with his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan) and tween daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell). They are down on their luck at the moment and Anne wants to leave the harsh wilderness life for less rural surroundings. The coming of winter is the least of their problems, though, as they begin to believe a wolf is raiding their traps and might soon set it’s sights on them. Determined not to be driven from his home and way of life, Joe sets out to hunt the canine predator down. While he is away, Anne and Renee encounter a predator of a different kind.

Survival thriller is written and directed by Shawn Linden. It has a smoldering intensity and is a slow burn leading to an explosion of violence. Linden gives the film atmosphere and the wilderness locations a very bleak and desolate look. it suits the overall mood of the film, as this is a dark and unapologetic thriller and will be most talked about for it’s savage and violent finale. The last minutes of the film dips into horror movie territory as characters are driven to brutal acts. It segues from survival thriller to revenge thriller in it’s last moments and it’s unpleasant and will stick with you. Once all is said and done and the credits roll, one might ask what the point of it all was, but skilled direction makes this a fairly effective piece, even if such questions arise as you uncomfortably ponder what you just saw. There is some brutal violence and some very effectively done horror flick level gore to accentuate the gruesome finale.

The small cast perform well. Devon Sawa is good as Joseph. He’s a simple man wanting to protect his family and his way of life. Camille Sullivan is very good as his wife Anne, who dreams of maybe moving on from this hard life and must become a fighter and protector when predators, both four legged and two legged, come knocking at their cabin door. Summer H. Howell is also likable as their twelve year-old daughter, who is learning her dad’s trade and Nick Stahl is also effective as a stranger who they find injured in the woods. Supporting cast includes Gabriel Daniels and Lauren Cochrane as local law enforcement officials. A good cast!

This is a bleak movie with a very grim and vicious finale. Writer/director Shawn Linden crafts an intense slow burn that has a mean punch of a pay-off. It also pulls no punches, and doesn’t sacrifice impact to wrap things up with a happy little bow. It’s not a pleasant movie and there is no Hollywood ending. One may wonder what the point of it all was, but it could just be to tell a story of folks driven to desperate acts and that the worst and most dangerous predators on the planet walk on two legs. Currently streaming from IFC Midnight.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) traps!

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