First, as a far from classic "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episode, then as the final segment in the forgettable anthology "Four Rooms" and now as a darkly funny full length movie featuring a storyline of rich people using the poor for their own pleasure. It certainly seems that the third time is the charm for "Cheap Thrills".
Now available on VOD and hitting the Hollywood Theater this weekend for an exclusive engagement from Drafthouse Films, comes a fractured tale of a likable loser thrust into a sick game of one-up manship with an old friend, held by an affluent couple from the Hollywood hills.
The loser, Craig (Pat Healy, "Compliance"), just lost his job, faces eviction and still must find a way to take care of his wife and a brand new baby. His old friend Vince (Ethan Embry, "Empire Records"), also down on his luck, discovers himself competing against someone he grew up protecting. The affluent couple, Colin and Violet (David Koechner, "Anchorman" & Sara Paxton, "The Innkeepers"), are the ringleaders of a diabolical contest of increasing dares. Starting out slowly, with small bets, they up the odds, until something bad for one (or both) contestants will surely happen.
A telling script from Actor/Writer Trent Haaga ("Deadgirl") that touches on our culture's voyeuristic needs to watch (instead of feel), reality TV and the growing gap between the haves and have-nots. Kudos to first-time Director E.L. Katz, along with a credible cast that fleshes out what could have become cardboard characters. Especially Koechner, usually a one joke humorist, here he deftly handles both the comic and macabre. Pushing the buttons of those he feels are beneath him, all with a smile and a friendly demeanor. Catch "Cheap Thrills", a Comedy that charms with a lure and then cuts with a scathing wit.