[FOUR DAYS ONLY] Freshman director E.L. Katz’s Cheap Thrills is an unlikely and unholy mating of two very different influences: the classic Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series and Jackass. The former—particularly a classic episode starring Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre—receives direct homage, while the latter is evoked in the images of men engaging in stunts of degradation. That’s an odd combo, but it’s shocking how well Cheap Thrills pulls it off. The story is sleek and simple. Family man Craig (Pat Healy) hits the bar after receiving a pink slip and an eviction notice. He coincidentally meets up with old friend Vince (Ethan Embry), a low-level thug. A few drinks in, the duo encounters a coke-addled couple (Sara Paxton and a surprisingly subdued David Koechner), who begin paying them for stunts of increasingly high stakes. Slap a stripper’s ass and get $200. Start a fight and get $300. Things escalate quickly, and the two men find themselves participants in their benefactors’ sadistic personal game show—and in turn, we’re asked to put a price on our own morality. It sounds gimmicky, and it often is. But despite its flaws, Cheap Thrills is a nasty riot, a disturbing and hysterical commentary on classism and the inherent corruptibility of good men that isn’t afraid to show a dude pooping on somebody’s carpet to make a point.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
- Critic's Score: B
- Watch the trailer