Brutal and exhilarating, Cheap Thrills is one of those movies that will have you constantly asking ‘Would you..?’
Best viewed with a friend or two and a bottle of Tequila, pop this one on and prepare to question your own limits as you watch two friends pushed to the limit in the quest for cash. I bring you:
There’s no nudity here, just an awkward and intense intimate session, but there IS plenty of gore
Family man Craig (played by Pat Healy) has had one helluva rough day. Eviction notice on the door, blue collar job lost, he stops off to grab a drink while thinks on just what the hell he’s going to do to support his wife and young child. That’s when childhood friend Vince (played by the seasoned Ethan Embry) makes a random appearance. Its been five years since they last spoke, so they have a lot to catch up on, when they are approached by the apparently fun loving and extremely rich couple Violet (Sara Paxton) and Colin (David Koechner).
The couple has a proposition – its Violets birthday, and Colin wants to give her one helluva night. Something unconventional. And there’s a lot of money in it for the winner.
Vince eagerly agrees, while Craig takes a bit more convincing. Its clear his loyalties are to his family, but once the minor contests begin (50 bucks to whoever does the shot first, 100 bucks to get a chick to slap you, etc) Craigs mind begins to change.
The challenges escalate throughout the night (ala 13 Sins or Would you Rather) and our two unlikely heroes are pushed to the raggedy edge in pursuit of the biggest payout of their lives.
Overall, the movies pretty simple. The characters of Craig and Vince are pretty cookie cutter, which does make it easier to predict – but the simplicity of presentation is fucking perfect. It allows the rest to really shine – all the while the viewer asking themselves “would I do that for that much money?”
I’ll say this, it’s a great way to get to know someone. My GF had a fucking BLAST trying to predict who would do what first, then if we ourselves would do it.
Course, the tequila helped.
The gore here is really in the sort of casual brutality, which makes every gorey scene hit that much harder.
In the end, its hard to hate or love any of the characters – even Craig, in his quest to secure a future for his kids, crosses the line. While Koechner’s comedic background shows through, its really interesting seeing him inhabit this darker, mildly psychotic skin. I can see how the argument could be made that this is too much of a departure for him, but I’d have to disagree. He fucking OWNS this shit, to great success.
Overall – a wonderful character study, with a haunting ending that’ll leave you at equal times speechless or screaming.
6/10 – Doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but doesn’t need too. Fucked up and fun all at once, definitely good times while drinking with a few buds.