Movie Review - Cheap Thrills

Pat Healy proves how far he'll go
for cash in "Cheap Thrills"
Pat Healy plays Craig Daniels, a man who realizes he's being evicted from his apartment. He loses his job as a mechanic, and he doesn't know how he's going to take care of his wife and newborn baby. He goes to a bar to drown his sorrows when he runs into an old friend, Vince, played by Ethan Embry. Vince is single but is shady and has his own financial issues. He seems to work as a kind of debt collector, but it doesn't yield him much.

Both of them start having drinks with a couple in the bar. Colin, played by David Koechner, and Violet, played by Sara Paxton, are celebrating Violet's birthday. Colin and Violet appear to be very rich and have money to burn. Colin, in particular, tosses out $100 bills like they're $1 bills. Eventually, Colin starts to bet Craig and Vince to do things for hundreds of dollars.

They move from the bar to Colin and Violet's house. Colin continues to bet Craig and Vince, as well as dare them into doing increasingly dangerous things. It's all for Violet's amusement for her birthday. She seems lackadaisical and highly bored, and the dares are the only thing that interest or excite her. The dares or physical challenges are meant to be in the vein of the TV series Fear Factor but taken to its extreme.

The movie, written by David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga, immediately veers toward The Hunger Games territory, and it becomes all about how far will these men go and what are they willing to do for money. It also becomes how these two men, Craig and Vince, see themselves and each other. It's a bizarre test of the friendship.

Like the horror film You're Next, some undermining questions come up in the wake of the ending. This is a spoiler, but one of the dares that Colin secretly asks Vince is to kill Craig for a quarter-million dollars. Vince is so stupid that he believes that Colin can take care of it or cover it up without ever thinking how.

If Craig died or went missing, how would that be explained? The police investigation might have traced Craig's whereabouts back to the bar where they all were seen and witnessed by several people. No doubt, they all would have been arrested, so the fact that that isn't considered is stupid. There also comes a point where Craig keeps reiterating that he's doing this for his family, but after a point, his consideration for them goes completely out the window.

Other than that, the movie is a version of torture porn. Director E. L. Katz trades mostly in gore and depravity. It all takes place in one night and once it passes a certain point, the half-way mark, it becomes predictable. The performances are solid though.

Two Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains sex and bloody violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.


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