Cheap Thrills is a delightfully brutal and very dark movie that dives deep into your own subconscious and asks just how far would you go for money. Helmed by first time director E.L. Katz it stars Pat Healy, Sara Paxton, Ethan Embry and David Koechner. If you're not sold by the cast alone, let me tell you a little more about it.
Craig (Healy), everyday family man, wakes up to an eviction notice outside his home. As if things can't get any worse, he loses his job later that afternoon. Down and out, Craig heads to a bar soon to walk down a road that will forever change his life.
Catching up with old friend Vince (Embry) the two quickly meet Colin (Koechner) and his wife Violet (Paxton) at the bar who are out celebrating Violet's birthday. Colin flaunts his money and convinces Craig and Vince to engage in dares for money. What starts out as innocent fun quickly makes a turn into darker, more violent acts once they reach the couples home. There were some cringe worthy moments, none of which I want to discuss because I want the movie to be as cool for you as it was for me. The ending of the film was predictable, but that in no way takes away from the value of the movie. Trust me.
The screen play was written back in 2008 by Trent Haaga (DeadGirl), and in my opinion is extremely well done! Haaga has a knack for developing depth in his characters and it all comes to fruition in Cheap Thrills. Healy is fantastic as Craig, you can feel his struggle when he is faced with certain situations and you find that you're questioning yourself while he is. He has that ability to draw that out of the viewer, not once overacting it. Embry's energy that he brought to Vince was great. To see him change throughout the film and find himself again--to have the ability to convey that to the audience...that takes talent, and Embry nails it. David Koechner is just one of those people that I love to watch. Quite the departure from Champ Kind in Anchorman yelling "WHAMMY!!!" This was a great role for him, as he shows he is versatile between being loud and obnoxiously funny to being a sick and twisted bastard. The lovely Sara Paxton rounds out the cast. Her Violet is just as sick and demented as Koechner's Colin, albeit a bit more reserved. She really comes out of her shell when she's focused on Healy, and that comes from them working together before. (Inn Keepers) Let me say this--I truly enjoyed this movie. Start to finish. What REALLY impressed me though, was the chemistry between the cast. It all seemed natural, and they all worked together perfectly. It's most evident with Healy and Embry. They come from opposite sides of the track, and it's refreshing dynamic
Overall, I applaud E.L. Katz. To knock it out of the park on his first time up is no easy feat. My hat is off to the cast and crew and I encourage anybody who likes a "what would you do" type movie...to check this out.
I give it a 4/5 Skulls just because my thirst for blood and violence is unquenchable, though had it been more than it is, it would definitely teeter on being distasteful.