Black comedy that brings to mind a drug-fuelled Coen Brothers flick with a hint of early Sam Raimi
Family man Craig (Pat Healy) is resoundingly down on his luck. Facing eviction after losing his job, he hits the bar with old drinking buddy Vince (Ethan Embry). It's there they encounter rich couple Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton), who lure Craig and Vince into a game of increasing depravity in order to keep Craig's life afloat. Things start innocently enough with the downing of a few shots, but with Colin happy to flash the cash in exchange for ever uglier acts of debasement, the ultimate game of dare gets bloodier and darker with every challenge.
Trent Haaga (who also wrote the criminally overlooked Deadgirl) and David Chirchirillo have penned a snappy script, while director EL Katz has captured some great performances in his debut feature, particularly Healy's desperate Craig and the menacing, vulgar and arrogant Colin as played by Koechner (best known for Anchorman and the US remake of The Office). Mining a rich black comedic seam examining the power of money in modern society and how easily friendships will crumble for the right price, the story sometimes wavers in believability but the commitment from the cast carries it through any wobbles. Boasting a denouement that is particularly sharp, Cheap Thrills plays like a drug-fuelled Coen Brothers flick with a hint of early Sam Raimi; it's no wonder the film has already picked up a handful of awards at various film fests (including Boston Underground Film Festival, Fantasia and SXSW Film Festival).