“What would you do if...?” How often have you contemplated doing something that goes against your personal ethics? Not incredibly often, let's hope. However, what if someone else rolled the dice and raised the stakes by including a substantial financial incentive that you could really use because you're struggling to get by? Many will come across this difficult situation at some point in their lives, but, for the characters in indie thriller Cheap Thrills, a lifetime's worth of bets are thrown their way all in one single night.
The film's title couldn't be more fitting. Engaging in cheap thrills certainly does sound innocent enough, yet, like the way people become addicted to penny slots, it's still gambling and it can still ruin your life. “What harm can it do?” is another silly question wagerers ask each other. Oh, it can do plenty of harm, and we find this out VERY quickly in Cheap Thrills.
Lead actor Pat Healy (The Innkeepers, Compliance) plays Craig, a devoted husband and father who loses his job and is threatened with eviction on the same day. Incredibly depressed, he is at his absolute lowest state of mind when he runs into Vince (Ethan Embry), an old friend, at a bar and agrees to a few more drinks for old times' sake. This is the first of a multitude of very, very bad decisions. Do we blame him? No. You're on the verge of losing everything in a seemingly no-win situation. Heck yeah, you'll want to hold off the moment you have to relay bad news to loved ones. Without spoiling any of the good stuff, a long, wild night ensues, thanks to the extremely indecent proposals led by their newfound drinking buddies Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton). As the night goes on, each bet gets more dangerous and/or downright sick, and, in turn, each comes with a higher monetary reward. Viewers will find themselves asking the grand question: “How far is too far?”
With the recent Blu-ray release getting fans all aflutter, it seems a great time to share my photos from the Q&A event at the Music Box Theatre on April 11, 2014. After the premiere, director E.L. Katz and star Pat Healy approached the stage for a very funny, insightful interview. Katz talked about his experiences working in the horror industry as a journalist and how it led to screenwriting projects (Home Sick) and eventually directing his first feature film (Cheap Thrills). Healy (born in Chicago) had a lot of funny stories about what happened on set and shared tidbits from his past film projects. Recently, Healy was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Starry Eyes! Shooting ahead, look for Katz' segment in the upcoming ABCs of Death 2.
The important message I took away from seeing Cheap Thrills is that the outcome of one's choices is solely up to the individual. Free will. No one was actually forcing Craig and Vince to maim each other or their own bodies. They acted of their own volition. If anything was pushing them to agree to those insane bets, it was their own real-life stresses, bearing down upon their consciences. The characters decided that financial survival trumped ethics for the greater good. The little thrills came so easily at first, but once they had gotten into the thick of it, there was no turning back in their minds.
For more information, visit the Cheap Thrills website HERE and be sure to check out the “Share to Dare” section!
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