WINNER: Midnighter Audience Award, SXSW 2013
Official Selection, Seattle Film Festival 2013
“Like the mutant offspring of Harold Pinter and Quentin Tarantino, yet fueled by its own distinctive strain of darkly comic misanthropy”– Joe Leydon, VARIETY
“A fiendish, fierce, and funny morality tale about the true value of money” – Peter Martin, TWITCH
“An insular and intimate saga of an epically bad night of one-upmanship that perfectly mirrors the stranglehold the 1% of this country have over the 99%” – Evan Dickson, BLOODY DISGUSTING
Craig (Pat Healy) is a newly-made family man who works hard to support his wife and their recently-arrived baby. Today, however, is not his day. First, he loses his blue-collar job without warning, sending him tumbling into a local bar to get his thoughts in order. It is here that Craig’s misfortunes become thermonuclear. He runs into an old schoolmate, Vince (Ethan Embry), now an ex-con working as a brutal debt collector for the underworld. Catching up on things over drinks and marveling at the strange turns their lives have taken, the two have a momentary escape. Time flies and before they know it, Craig and Vince are sitting at the table of Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton), a freewheeling couple who clearly have money to burn and love showing it off. Colin lets the booze flow as he amuses himself by daring his new working-class buddies to do a series of increasingly silly things in exchange for money. They decide to continue the party back at Colin’s place. As boundaries and judgment blurs, the couples’ dares become… odder. And much more dangerous.
One of the key breakouts of this year’s SXSW, CHEAP THRILLS will have everyone who sees it asking themselves the same question: How the hell is this only E.L. Katz’s first feature? It’s an astonishing debut by any measure, walking a brilliantly executed tonal tightrope act that few filmmakers can pull off. Katz is a filmmaker with talent to burn and an instinct for staging and rhythm that many seasoned vets won’t ever attain. While it’s a shocking, bloody and transgressive piece of work that literally oozes edge-of-your-seat tension, CHEAP THRILLS is a hell of a good time that will alternately have you gasping, laughing and shrieking from the moment it opens. As social commentary, its core is ferocious. As a wickedly entertaining, blackly humorous thrill ride, its pure, blood-spattered gold. Think ’70s Larry Cohen by way of Chuck Palahniuk.
A diabolically smart skewing of the horrors of economic slavery and the exploitation of the working class that practically dares its audience not to look away, CHEAP THRILLS explodes with dirty deeds done anything but dirt cheap. SEE IT!
— Mitch Davis