Cheap Thrills

"Excellent"

Cheap Thrills Review


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.

Rich Cline



Cheap Thrills

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

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

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 78 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: E.L. Katz

Producer: Gabriel Cowan, Travis Stevens, John Suits

Starring: as Craig, as Vince, as Violet, as Colin, as Audrey, Laura Covelli as Caryn, Elissa Dowling as Tweaker, 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

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