Thank God for VOD! – Cheap Thrills

I don’t get to go to the movies as often as I’d like to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t watch awesome flicks at home. Thank God for VOD!

cheapthrillsCheap Thrills

What would you do for money? Would you do something stupid? Something dangerous? What if it was a lot of money? Would you do something humiliating? Something debasing? What if you really needed that money? Would you do something illegal? Something unconscionable?

E.L. Katz’s debut feature Cheap Thrills answers all those questions and more with gusto and a wicked, black smile.

The film follows Craig (Pat Healy) over the course of an increasingly bad day, as he and his wife and child face eviction from their small apartment. Pressure mounting, Craig is then let go from his job. Seemingly facing homelessness, he soon finds himself in a bar drinking away his troubles, if only for a fleeting moment, where he runs into Vince (Ethan Embry), an old friend. The two exchange niceties, feigning a sort of reconnection, when the encounter Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton), a wealthy couple out for an evening of drinks, blow, and debauchery. The four sit and party together, getting to know each other, when Colin begins to lay out a series of dares with an increasing allotment of financial incentives to Craig and Vince. The dares are innocent enough, but as the evening transpires, the level of danger, obscenity, and recklessness, gets higher and higher, a result of sick and twisted senses of humor. Craig, seeing his chance to keep his family off the streets, is obliged to participate, though he is unsure of how far he is willing to go. Vince, on the other hand, dives into the fray with unmatched zeal, excitedly taking on each new, horrible challenge, even if it’s at the expense of his old friend.

The party soon moves to Colin and Violet’s place, and things get ugly…and intense…and hilarious.

This film is dark, dark comedy, and rather gleefully so. I found myself laughing out loud despite myself throughout the film, though the implications of what people will do for a dollar are unsettling, and unfortunately all too true. For the better part of two decades, we have been living in an era of exploitation TV, the masses lining up to eat bugs, jump off buildings, marry strangers, and endure pain and bodily harm for money, money, money. It is the age of the Jackass*. And even if we’re not participating in the demeaning acts ourselves, we’re happily sitting in our living rooms, sucking up sugar water, and clapping and laughing for our own personal court jesters.

Cheap Thrills plays on the cheapening of our collective self-worth, but ups the ante considerably by making the players so desperate, on the ropes, and out of options. You do what you must to take care of those close to you. You do what you have to do, even if it means selling your proverbial soul. That a film that toils in such bleak and often disgusting material can also be funny as hell is testament to the skill of the actors and filmmakers therein.

So again, what you do?

*To be completely honest, I have a fondness for the guys of Jackass and their exploits that kind of makes me ashamed of myself. I guess I’m part of the bigger problem. C’est la Vie!


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit

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