Last year at Fantastic Fest, I missed CHEAP THRILLS… When it let out, I was already at the Closing Night party. I was hosting the screening of Terry Gilliam’s THE ZERO THEOREM – a film that I still believe to be utterly perfect and a vision of each and every one of our’s future. But then… so could CHEAP THRILLS. At the closing night party, suddenly this slapping thing happened, where folks would slap one another then hug. It was kind of beautiful and stupid – and I had no idea why Fantastic Fest Goddess Kristen Bell and I were slapping each other – but we both loved it! But I had no idea why any of this was happening, but when the crowd began chanting my name, I entered the ring…
There are times where I’m called to be in the other theater. When I watched CHEAP THRILLS the other night, I have to tell you… it was just fucking awesome!
Pat Healy plays Craig, a man that loves his wife, plays with his kid, opens the front door, closes it and sees an Eviction notice. I remember those days with Dad. They were scary. With that knowledge, he goes to work as a mechanic… emptying a car’s oil before being told… you’re fired. Craig’s had… one of those days. The kind that finds weak and strong men having a bit of liquid courage before facing the wife with the… news of the day. That’s when he bumps into his friend, Vince, played by Ethan Embry. He’s a collector, breaking arms to collect money owed. They’ve been acquainted for years, but it has been 5 since they last met. Craig, being desperate, asks about Vince’s job – and when Vince offers to help out, he and we learn… Craig needs $4500 to get out of his particular jam. Neither one of these guys see that kind of change. Craig decides to take a leak.
Sometimes taking a leak is a terrifying thing. It’s like releasing those precious bodily fluids can shift dimensions… but as Craig enters the bathroom a man doing cocaine makes a hasty exit. Pat sees the discarded $10 bill in the toilet and isn’t too proud to not pick it up. When he exits the bathroom, Vince has been roped into drinks with the Bathroom Coke Head, who turns out to be Colin, played by David Koechner (Man God). Turns out Man God is married to Violet, played by the irresistible Sara Paxton. As Koechner’s Colin gets the guys drinking… winning money based upon who drank fastest… who got slapped… who did this and who did that. You see it is all for Violet, it’s her birthday and she has a complicated notion of fun. This is going to be a very fun night… for her.
So the play is set. Two hard luck cases that would do anything for a buck, and a couple willing and eager to spend $250,000.00 to have their way. It’s a fucked fucked kinda night.
By the time you get to the final haunting, ludicrous, horrific shot… so much has happened, and yet it felt like a series of logical progressions… One act leads to the next. How far would you go? How far would your ‘old friend’ go?
Pat Healy and Ethan Embry are great, but for me – the film hinges on David Koechner – he’s keeping it light, keeping it moving. I 100% Colin in this film. You have a Colin in the room… a man that can buy people’s souls… shit could get real. This film is a dark deliciously devilish time.
Somebody is gonna win – and really, who doesn’t love a winner?
It reminds me of the same sort of inky black humor of films like THE LAST SUPPER, rather than something like INDECENT PROPOSAL. This is a film that deals with man dealing with desperation. Every day we hear what people try to do for money. It will only get crazier. CHEAP THRILLS is a darkly hilarious stride down a dark path. It was constantly entertaining, and I loved how it all came together. This is a great one! It opens this weekend in select markets, but seek it out. It is a helluva flick!