Cheap Thrills (2014)

Cheap Thrills poster.jpgAnything but Cheap

Craig (Pat Healy), is an auto mechanic who loses his job. He is unable to pay his rent and after seeing the eviction sign, he goes to a bar, where he meets someone from his old high school, Vince (Ethan Embry). A rich couple, Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton), give them money for completing certain tasks. The tasks are simple at first, but they later become violent.

E.L Katz's debut film is a twisted, brutal, shocking piece of work that shows he's one to watch out for. The simple 'dares for money' premise could have easily been the basis for an exploitative film which holds nothing beneath the surface, little more than an hour and a half of torture porn disguised as entertainment. What we're instead given is a study on how far a person will push, degrade and humiliate themselves in order to pursue what they believe will enrich their lives and make things better. In this instance, the object is money, which allows the film to hold a social relevance with pretty much everybody out there. It's also wickedly funny.

"Your next task is to make me dinner"

The performances of Pat Healy and Ethan Embry as Craig and Vince anchor the film, as their characters are struggling to make ends meet. As time closes in for Craig to pay his rent and Vince has to take jobs which risk him being sent back to jail, it only makes sense that the two would even be tempted by such a proposition as their offered. David Koechner is usually known for his over the top, loud shtick, as seen in Anchorman and the abysmal A Haunted House, but he gives a more subdued effort here, which is a lot more effective. Sara Paxton, however, is given little to do other than observe the nights proceedings, usually through the lens of her camera phone.

Cheap Thrills is anything but cheap, offering a fantastic social relevance and brilliant performances, which help to make this twisted, blackly comedic film with a simple premise anything but another round of torture porn.