Posted June 3, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

Cheap Thrills Review


Craig is down on his luck. On a particularly horrid day after losing his job he finds himself in a dive bar where he runs into old time friend, Vince. Drowning their sorrows together, Craig and Vince’s night takes a turn for the more upbeat when they have a drink with wealthy couple Colin and Violet.

Colin it seems likes to indulge himself as and when he can and uses his wallet to get there; to the point where he is happy to throw money Craig and Vince’s way when it comes to playing childish pranks. But once the drink and drugs start to flow, Colin’s dares take a turn for the more extreme and Craig and Vince find themselves pitted in a dark game fueled by a thrist for money at the expense of everything else, while Colin and Violet watch on.

As Craig, Pat Healy is the morale centre of the film as the down on his luck schlub. He’s just been made redundant; he has a wife and a baby; he has a debt to pay in the next few days – so he is the most compromised of all of the characters, and pretty much thrown into the sink hole of the “What if” and “How far would you go” scenario.

As Vince, Ethan Embry plays the lower class brute old friend with enough charm and charisma to see why he’s an easy guy to have a beer with; but just as quickly turns on a dime to show just how much he’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t trust and would only take friendship so far with. Along with Koechner’s Colin you can see that it is both of them that are eager to get on with business, despite the fact that they both have very different goals.

Koechner’s Colin knows how to play charming, how to lead scenes and is often the vocal instigator of everything that happens. Colin is the brain child of what is to happen, but you can easily see that he is ran with a desire, not necessarily to see the results, but to please his more dormant wife lingering behind him. Sara Paxton largely slinks in the background as Colin’s much younger new wife Violet. But the minimalist approach works wonders and adds to her power on screen as a string pulling malevolent force.

The premise leaps very successfully from the lows of toilet humour to very dark rooted drama. There is an undoubted bloodlust in the film that fuels the fires of most of the characters needs and wants. Occasionally this lands the audience is the zone of making sick jokes for laughs or for gross out black humour. Equally though, there is plenty of character study often drawn with the way we see characters observe each other. This along with an occasionally ambient soundtrack is more than enough to forgive any of the more puerile decisions.

Cheap Thrills had its UK Debut at FrightFest 2014 came away with some of the highest praise of any of the films that year. And deservedly so – This one makes an impact, entertains and gives plenty of food for thought.

5 Stars




Steven Hurst