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Cheap Thrills


Stars: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, David Koechner, Amanda Fuller, Elissa Dowling, Laura Covelli

Director: E L Katz

A truly nasty little number (which has miraculously avoided the '18' certificate it deserves) on the theme of how far a man will go for money.

And that's quite a way, judging by what occurs in the debut feature by director Katz, whose background is in horror.

Craig (Healy), behind by nearly $5000 on his rent and coincidentally losing his job the same day he receives an eviction notice, is drowning his sorrows with old acquaintance Vince (Embry) when they run across free-spending Colin (Koechner) and his dreamy blonde wife (Paxton).

Colin flashes his wallet, paying the waitress $300 for a bottle of tequila, and a series of bets ensues, ensnaring Craig and the equally cash-strapped Vince. At first harmless wagers on shots of tequila, things move on to $200 for the first guy to get a girl at the bar to slap his face, then $500 for the first to hit the bouncer evicting them from the bar.

Craig sustains a broken nose in winning this bet, the first of a series of injuries during a night that will leave him both richer and poorer.

Back at Colin's flat, things get heavy. After more bizarre bets, Vince enlists a still-reluctant Craig in an attempt to steal the hundreds of thousands in Colin's safe and skedaddle. But the gamesmaster turns the tables, and the boys find themselves facing ever more gruesome if more rewarding tasks.

Frankly, it's scarcely believable that Craig would return (after shagging Koechner's wife for the rent he owes) in order to collect $15,000 more for chopping off his finger, but then this is an extremely unpalatable piece that cares little for logic and hardly qualifies as entertainment in the process.

There's a moral here somewhere, to be sure, but it's buried in gore.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Koch Media. Colour (unspecified).
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 01 Jun 2014