Comedies don't get much more pitch-black than this fiendishly clever film, which will shift into horror for everyone in the audience, although that tipping point varies for each person. In other words, this movie will feel intensely personal for everyone who watches it. And credit must go to the cast, director and writers for making a film that, while unnerving you to the core, teaches you something about yourself in the process.
It centres on Craig (Pat Healy), who is having a seriously bad day: he's been sacked at work and evicted from his home, so before returning to his annoyed wife (Amanda Fuller) he stops for a stiff drink. At the bar he runs into his estranged friend Vince (Ethan Embry), a slacker who gets them into a conversation with Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton), a wealthy couple that's celebrating Violet's birthday by daring strangers to do things for money. In need of cash, both Craig and Vince volunteer, and the initially harmless tasks quickly become dangerous, sparking competition between them. And yet they play on. The question is how far they're willing to go.
Writers Trent Haaga and David Chirchirillo have conceived these challenges as a sliding scale from benign fun to nasty embarrassment to disturbing transgression and finally a full-on nightmare. Because of the way viewers react, this is definitely a film to watch in a crowded cinema, as it's clear which point on this scale is each person's limit: the laughter changes to nervous silence and ultimately gasps of horror. The fact that the movie sparks such a visceral reaction is indicative of its genius. You can't be complacent; you're right in here to the bitter end.
All of the performances manage to walk that fine line between comedy and drama, realistically capturing shifting liaisons, flashes of silliness and much darker emotions too. The combination of these fine actors is intensely intriguing, drawing us into the unnerving series of events and then refusing to let us out. The feelings this stirs up are potent, as things turn shocking and then unimaginably awful. Since it's played as a black comedy, the irony and humour only make it scarier. And most impressive is the fact that the writing, acting and directing never remotely moralise about what these people do: indeed, they leave you to draw that line.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st March 2014
Box Office USA: $59.4k
Distributed by: Drafthouse Films
Production compaines: Snowfort Pictures, New Artists Alliance
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 78 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: E.L. Katz
Producer: Gabriel Cowan, Travis Stevens, John Suits
Screenwriter: Trent Haaga, David Chirchirillo
Starring: Pat Healy as Craig, Ethan Embry as Vince, Sara Paxton as Violet, David Koechner as Colin, Amanda Fuller as Audrey, Laura Covelli as Caryn, Elissa Dowling as Tweaker, Todd Farmer as Security Guard, Eric Neil Gutierrez as Enrique, Sam Ketcherside as Angry Stripper, Shelby Lauren as Club Goer, Will Leon as Bartender, Danny Minnick as Strip Club Goer, Ruben Pla as Doug, Claudia Salinas as Stripper
Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...
This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...
Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...
As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...
After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...
Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...
Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...
Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...