Movie Review: Cheap Thrills


Cheap Thrills is a black comedy/ drama movie directed by E.L. Katz (Autopsy). The film stars David Koechner (Anchorman, Get Smart), Sara Paxton (Shark Night 3D, The Innkeepers), Pat Healy (Magnolia, Rescue Dawn), and Ethan Embry (Can’t Hardly Wait, Eagle Eye) and revolves around a couple who invite two old friends over to take part in a twisted game of dares for increasing amounts of cash.

The movie begins with Craig (Healy), a man with a family is who struggling to make ends meet. He leaves for work and once he gets there, he is let go, making it even harder to take care of his expenses. He walks over to a local bar where he runs into an old friend named Vince (Embry). They have a few drinks before they meet Colin and Violet (Koechner and Paxton), a couple there to celebrate Violet’s birthday. They begin to offer money to Craig and Vince for different things, including making a woman slap them and taking a shot of whiskey.


The party then moves to the couple’s house and the dares quickly begin to escalate. Vince wants to rob the couple when he notices a safe full of money and Craig eventually agrees to help, but Colin and Violet quickly thwart their plans and the dares continue to become more and more sadistic. The game continues until the final dare must take place and it pits friend against friend.

Cheap Thrills is a well-made movie by Katz and wonderfully acted by the main cast. Healy is great as the desperate man who is eventually willing to go to great lengths to get the money to provide for his family. Embry was good as well as the old friend who will turn his back on his old friend when cash becomes involved. But Koechner was the best in the cast in a role that is unlike anything he has really done before. While he had his comedic spots in this film, he also played it much darker and sinister than any other role I have seen him in.

Overall, Cheap Thrills is definitely worth a view. It was very reminiscent of 13 Sins, another film I had seen with a very similar plot. That movie was a lot darker and had more elements of a cat-and-mouse crime movie than this one. Cheap Thrills has much more comedy in it and is confined mostly to a bar and a house. And while I enjoyed both for what they did, Cheap Thrills is the one I would recommend more if you could watch just one.

Daryl Karpinski Jr.