Black Friday Image

Black Friday

By Bobby LePire | November 2, 2023

Black Friday is written and directed by James D. Watkins and stars Isa Karbel, Vince Mirabile, and Samantha Stonecipher. The film deals with the occult, death, and possession. The filmmaker ties his themes into the beloved John Lennon song “Imagine.” Also, the horror short is shot on video or intentionally designed to appear that way to emulate its inspirations, Trilogy Of Terror and Killer Party. Is the 18-minute runtime long enough to fit in everything Watkins wants to accomplish?

Tessie (Karbel) left her mom’s funeral early. She convinces her friends (Mirabile and Stonecipher) to help her pack up her mom’s house. While the trio are boxing various items, Tessie discovers a trinket her mom claimed would keep her safe. However, things take an eerie turn when objects, including dildos, begin to move on their own. Who or what is haunting the friends and why?

“…things take an eerie turn when objects, including dildos, begin to move…”

Let’s get this out of the way as soon as possible. The first 2 minutes are awkward and pointless. The use of “Imagine” doesn’t make a ton of sense in context and feels forced. Yes, there’s a throwaway line at the end about the Lennon song, but considering its use and emphasis, that’s hardly enough. It is a strange inclusion into what’s otherwise a decent little indie horror harkening back to a very specific bygone era.

The main story of Black Friday is compelling. The rift between Tessie and her mom over the latter’s occult ways intrigues. The crazy things at the house straddle the line between unsettling and funny. The dildos going after Mirabile is funny but also creepy in a messed-up way. Near the end is a great moment that showcases exactly what’s been happening. The transition to this reveal works well.

The themes of family rifts and sexual oppression are keenly observed. Admittedly, though, as a short, there’s not quite enough here for it all to work as impactfully as Watkins intended. Still, the actors are all game, and the ending works much better than expected. Black Friday is a flawed but interesting horror offering that wears its influence on its sleeve.

For more information, visit the official Black Friday site.

Black Friday (2023)

Directed and Written: James D. Watkins

Starring: Isa Karbel, Vince Mirabile, Samantha Stonecipher, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Black Friday Image

"…the actors are all game, and the ending works much better than expected."

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