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Cheap Thrills (2013)


Starring: Pat Healy, David Koechner, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton

Running time: 88mins.

Directed By: E.L. Katz.

I’d found out about this movie when doing my piece on Mumble Gore this month (which can be found here on the EGS site) and when I saw the trailer I was definitely hooked. It’s E.L. Katz’s directorial debut while also writing it, and it’s truly a tour de force of a movie. The movie when it showed at SXSW was involved in a bidding war, and the quality of work by everyone involved in the project shows exactly why it was sought after so much.


The premise of the movie has Craig (Pat Healy), a nerdy, odd kind of guy, who is down on money and luck after losing his job. He finds himself staring down the barrel of a life with no money and a wife and new born to provide for. With the last of the money in his wallet, Craig heads to a dive bar to contemplate how bad his life has gotten when he runs into an old school friend Vince (Ethan Embry). After catching up, the two down on their luck men run into a rich stranger and his young wife (David Koechner and Sara Paxton). They get roped into drinks with the strangers and then get involved in games of completing dare challenges in exchange for money, each dare getting progressively more imaginative and dangerous, while the money incentive greater leading to a story of twisted humour and how far some people will go for in the pursuit of money for cheap thrills.

Films like these are not necessarily horror by the usual standards (Slasher, supernatural, monsters etc.) But when man himself becomes the monster and what causes him to become that monster. This movie taps into the quick buck thinking of modern society, as in getting the most money for the littlest amount of work. It’s a question when watching this movie, is if we ourselves were faced with the same challenges for money, how would be react?  It’s a wonderfully crafted and yet ugly piece to view, but that’s the best part of it. Intense, dirty, bloody and wonderfully dark humoured makes this a fantastic viewing in the right company.

Pat Healy (Innkeepers) is superb in the movie as the downtrodden Craig, his life seeming to deliver blow after blow until meeting the mysterious Colin (koechner, Anchor man). From poor social skills and awkward glasses, Craig is truly the nerd done badly who runs into an old school friend Vince, a tough guy who is similarly financially challenged. The two men think their luck is in as Colin seemingly sets them easy challenges for plenty of cash, but as the game goes on, both men become more and more competitive, the greed growing. And with the greed comes the ugliness of what levels man will stoop to, to get the money.

There are parts of this movie which are frankly hideous, watching it with someone who has a weaker constitution may not be good. There were moments where I could understand someone watching this puking due to the revolting sequence unfolding in front of them. The sense of pace in the movie was perfect, by the end I was disappointed there wasn’t more in the film I enjoyed it that much, and special praise to Healy for fantastic performances in general, but there is one scene where he sells the viewer on intense pain, and that was awesome. The sense of dread was constant throughout this movie, wondering next how the stake would be raised.

There’s enough blood and black comedy to keep fans of horror interested. All four central characters deliver here in a big way. It has high ratings from most renowned sites and movie reviewers and I’m no different, watch this and enjoy and immerse yourself in two men’s moral descent in the pursuit of riches. By the end of the movie, I was wondering, what the odds were that something like this has already happened or would happen. The movie is Cheap Thrills, but this is a quality watch, you won’t regret it!

What I liked: Pat Healy’s fantastic performance, constant dread, dark humour, brutal scenes.

What I didn’t like? :  When it was over, not much else to be honest!


If you have an opinion on the movie or my review, feel free to comment below!

Al’s rating: 8.5/10