Pardon my French but the black comedy Cheap Thrills was fucking disgusting. And aggressively amazing. And never not fully entertaining. But fucking disgusting all the same. This is as nasty of a movie as I can think of – only strong stomachs need apply. The idea is simple: Two down on their luck guys (the go for broke Pat Healy and wild-man Ethan Embry) are suckered into a series of absurd, questionable, and violent dares for inordinate sums of cash by a rich married couple (the deranged David Koechner and super-hot Sara Paxton), with the idea being that these two desperate souls will debase themselves repeatedly while the couple gets off on the morally and ethically reprehensible antics. How far will people go before they essentially become thoughtless animals?
I’ll give first time director E.L. Katz and screenwriters David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga some serious credit, as their film is totally diseased and fully demented, made with a striking conviction to the jet-black and deadly-serious material, never backing off for a moment and always approaching the taste police ready to riot. The performances are all full-tilt and extremely committed, which helps to sell the increasingly dangerous, transgressive, and ludicrous narrative. It also has one of the best final shots of any movie from in recent memory; it’s totally balls-out in its level of madness. A carnival of grotesqueries and a major slap to the cinematic face, Cheap Thrills will leave you wanting a long, hot, soapy shower, which I’d have to imagine was the intent from everyone involved.
Review by Nick Clement