Cheap Thrills follows two estranged friends (Pat Healy, Ethan Embry) from high school that accept increasingly strange and dangerous dares for money from an affluent stranger (David Koechner) and his wife (Sara Paxton).
Cheap Thrills Review
I'm a little disappointed in myself for coming across this gem relatively late in the game. A horror comedy with a dark soul, it's hard to gauge the depth at which Cheap Thrills wished to attain, yet it finds itself with more life lessons than laughs at the end of the day.
Ethan Embry brought himself back into my heart with The Devil's Candy, so this was an easy choice to watch for me. The rest of the cast felt awkwardly pieced together, but the finished product feels like it could have been completed by no one else. Even out-of-his-element Koechner filled his role perfectly and Healy often stole scenes away from eccentricity of Embry's character.
There are so many questions this film sets out to ask and not necessarily answer amidst the absurdity of its ever-insane plot. Healy's character finds himself without a job and soon to be kicked out of his home where he once provided for his wife and daughter. Embry is an implied drug-addicted slacker. They both are so desperate for money, they hardly question the seemingly good-natured stranger at the bar that starts flaunting around large bills for simple dares. But with the escalation of the dares comes an escalation in stakes for the sadistic sociological experiment.
There are so many great scenes throughout the film, from the hilarious to the disturbing to the sobering. Its emotional mood swings ebb and flow in such a way that they seem to purposefully compete with the audience's reactions, making us want to laugh, cringe and cry within a 10 minute period.
Again, I'm more embarrassed than anything I went this long without even hearing of this movie, but at the end of the day, there are merely movies we miss on this journey to find the best in horror. It may have slipped through the cracks, but this is now a piece of horror comedy that will be regularly mentioned by me as something to check out.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 7/10