How far would you go if you’re broke and down on your luck and someone offers you more money than you’ve ever seen in your life? This is the question asked of Craig and Vince, two best friends from high school who have been estranged but happen to meet each other one fateful night in a bar. This is the setup for the E.L. Katz directed film Cheap Thrills (2013). Craig and Vince (Pat Healy and Ethan Embry, respectfully) are from two different worlds. Vince has been in and out of jail and prison for most of his life and doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break. Craig is a college boy who once had a promising career as a writer but writer’s block has prevented him from being able to support his wife and child and he can’t seem to keep a job or catch a break. When Craig is suddenly fired from his job he stumbles into a bar where he meets Vince and the two catch up on old times while also playing host to two strangers Violent and Colin (Sarah Paxton and David Koechner).
It seems that its Violet’s birthday and Colin wants to give her a night she’ll never forget which includes the presence of two complete strangers Craig and Vince. When Colin offers them cash if one of them can win a competition against the next it starts a chain reaction of bets where the pranks and goals escalate just as the monetary stakes are raised. When the competition gets too competitive both men must decide how far they will take this game especially when Violet and Colin have their own ulterior motive and it doesn’t matter how much it will cost them.
This may not sound like a horror film but for anyone who has read about this film then you already know that the tasks put forth to Craig and Vince escalates and get more violent as each man tries to outdo the other in the hopes of the biggest payday. Craig is playing the twisted game to support his wife and child while Vince is trying to get a leg up on the world that has labeled him a repeat criminal. This is a violent and disturbing film that is anchored by an excellent script by David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga and powerful performances by the entire cast. Because the story stays within the confines of these four characters it is very intimate and lends itself to a more focused film. This is a great film that I suggest you take a chance with.