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Not as clever as it thinks it is or funny as it needed to be
on 26 April 2016
"Cheap Thrills" is a modest budget indie from the USA, directed by E.L. Katz. It has a proper script and proper actors. I thought it was well made and acted, but the tone was very uncertain.
Pat Healy plays Craig, a married man with a young kid, who has just been made redundant and is about to be evicted. He meets an old school friend, Vince (Ethan Embry) in a bar, where they also meet a rich couple, Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton), who offer Craig and Vince money to compete in completing various "dares". Over the course of the evening the whole thing escalates (or descends, depending on how you see it) into bloody murder.
I thought Koechner was very good as the manipulative Colin, but I didn't really buy (sorry) the basis of increasingly psychotic and violent behaviour of the two friends towards each other as the evening progressed (they just weren't well enough drawn to explain their actions, for me personally). I thought script was not funny, or clever, enough to carry me along and past their unrealistic behaviour. While the acting is good, the tone left me a little confused whether this was meant to be a social satire or a straight black comedy (that I didn't find amusing).
Okay, but not as clever as it thinks it is or as funny as it needed to be to overcome a fairly crude (and unoriginal) plot.