Movie Review: “Cheap Thrills”

What would you do for money? I mean, huge amounts of money. How much would you be willing to compromise of your own safety? Your dignity? Would you go farther than what morals or decency allow in order to get rich quick? I think most people, regardless of what they answer in the end, would have to think hard if someone stuck a wad of cash in their face and told them to do something stupid, which is part of what made E.L Katz’ directorial debut so engaging: the viewer can’t help but question themselves and think how far they themselves would go, along with the film’s protagonists.

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“Cheap Thrills” tells the hilariously depraved story of Craig, a failed writer who is struggling to support his budding family, facing eviction and being straight up broke, when he suddenly loses his job as a garage hand. Now desperate and fearing for his wife and child’s well-being, Craig is overwhelmed and hopeless. That same night he runs into an old friend from high school, Vince, who has made a semi – living working as a shady debt collector. The two old friends end up falling in with a strange couple, Colin and Violet, who are in the mood to party and are throwing around money as if it were no object at all. Colin is dealing out $50 bills like chump change, and in no time Craig and Vince find themselves caught in a web of desperation and greed as they  play into Colin and Violet’s perverse game.

What begins as thoughtless dares and harmless fun quickly escalates into violations of both body and soul, eventually putting Craig and Vince at odds with each other as they are each possessed by the need to escape their own financial states. “Cheap Thrills” asks questions that are as entertaining and outrageous as they are extremely uncomfortable. The characters are pushed to limits that, in the beginning, would have been unthinkable. But the stakes keep on growing along with the dollar signs.  It serves as a relevant plot in light of today’s economic situations, with countless lower middle class struggling to make end’s meet to support themselves ad their families. This elevates “Cheap Thrills” above the common horror comedy and further ads to the scenes depicted.

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“Cheap Thrills” will make you laugh and cringe at the same time as you go with these characters on their downward spiral of greed and desperation. The film stirred buzz at festivals and amongst indie film buffs, but for the most part has not been given the attention it deserves. This is a FANTASTIC movie and I encourage anyone who enjoys an edgy and hilarious nightmare to seek this one out immediately.

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