Star – Pat Healey
Genre – Black Comedy
Run Time – 1 Hour 28 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – 8 Wins & 7 Nominations
Amazon – £2.49 DVD (£4.99 Blue Ray)
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Now that you can’t really rent physical films on the high street (ok, maybe your local library does them) I am buying in off Amazon Marketplace secondhand now. I am trawling through the online yearly top 100 movie lists, buying the recommended ones on Amazon Marketplace, watching them, then flipping them at CEX shop, and making a small profit in some cases. It’s not ideal but it is introducing me to lower budget interesting films I may have missed like Cheap Thrills. It cost me 1p plus £1.20 postage and I sold it for quid in CEX. The negative side to wanting to enjoy movies at home is it’s hard to see new films on DVD now and I’m not paying cinema prices at £9.99 at HMV for the privilege. It may be worth you guys using this method. I have smart TV but the internet connection has long since gone so Netflix is out. Just join a survey site that offers Amazon vouchers as rewards and away you go. Your films sorted for the winter! Works with video games as well.
Cheap Thrills is one of those movies pitched and presented as low budget Indie but a mid budget studio backed $10 million to make. The cast are not well known but solid at what thye do as you have seen them on TV, box sets and smaller parts in other movies, in this case David Koechner, ‘that bloke in’ The Legend of Ron Burgundy that’s not Steve Carroll or Paul Rudd etc. These films are often quirky and interesting and always well acted and non mainstream, definitely the case with this psycho drama.
• Pat Healy as Craig Daniels
• Sara Paxton as Violet
• Ethan Embry as Vince
• David Koechner as Colin
• Amanda Fuller as Audrey Daniels
• Brighton Sharbino as Luann
Mechanic Craig (Pat Healy) is a married man with a young baby and unemployed wife who has just lost his job. He can’t make the rent and after seeing the eviction sign go up in his yard, he goes to a sleazy bar to drown his sorrows, where he meets an old buddy from high school, Vince (Ethan Embry), bad news. After a few beers they meet a rich couple, Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton), who appear friendly at first and up for some boozy chat and drinks, and they are buying.
After becoming aware of Craig's desperate financial situation, the couple decides to entertain themselves by offering the guy’s money in return for completing certain tasks to amuse the rich couple. Its Violets birthday after all. At first its harmless drunken stuff like pinching the barmaids bottom for $100 or throwing a punch at the bouncer for $500, resulting in a broken nose for our mechanic.
When Craig comes around after a haymaker he is in the couple’s big house with Vince and soon earning more cash doing ever increasingly sadistic dares, like having a crap in the next door neighbor’s house to cheating on his wife and having sex with Violet for $6500, in front of Vince and Colin, the loser’s actions for cash increasingly turning the couple on. Craig needs that money and as much as he wants to go home blooded and broken he has to keep going to get enough money to save his house. When Colin asks one of them to cut their own finger off for $25 grand and Craig agrees its inevitable things are going to escalate even more as the dares rise with the reward ratio. When men are desperate they will do anything for their family.
Ok, it’s not a classic and done before but pretty good for what it is. With a lick of that Breaking Bad angst of dads not being able to pay the bills and so having to let their families down, and do anything to save them from it, however desperate (1-in-3 fatal shootings in America are parents killing themselves and, occasionally, their family members), it works on that level. This works as a vehicle to tap into that Middle America angst but that’s about it.
It’s more psycho drama than horror film and although the cast is unknown that makes it a better movie as you don’t want to relate to the unlikeable lead characters. Some of the stuff they do is pretty gruesome and so very much an 18 certificate. Fingers do get cut off and a whole lot worse. The low budget mood also works and you are engrossed as to how far the two guys will go to get the money they need. There is a point where you twig how far they will go although when that point comes you don’t expect it until the end. It’s not a mystery thriller in anyway and there are no twists and a straight out psycho drama between the four. It is what it is.
It has a dark and engrossing sadistic heart as the night thickens and a good example of how to make the most of the money you have. The one downer is the ropey soundtrack and the implausibility of the ending. Good things are it’s a fairly original idea in a big screen movie although more a Twighlight episode or Stephen King book than a two hour feature. Well worth a look though if it pops up on your movie channel or in the HMV reduction section….or on Amazon Marketplace.
Imdb.com – 6.8/10.0 (12,426votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 88% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 63% critic’s approval
Chicago Reader –‘Screenwriters David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga pose a simple question -- how much will a person degrade himself to make ends meet? -- but it's a potent one, at least for those of us who ponder it every Monday through Friday;.
Salon.com –‘Let's just say it takes a dim view of human nature that seems well supported by the evidence, and that if you have an appetite for fatalistic, dirty-minded gore you won't be disappointed’.
Arizona Republic –‘To describe them would diminish their impact, but there are several occasions where it is tough to keep looking at the screen. Yet, thanks to the characters and their portrayals, you can't really look away, either’.
The Horror Show –‘Strikes an astute balance between a simply engaging dark thriller and a trenchant piece of social commentary. Also it's a lot of fun’.
The Mail –‘Cheap Thrills lives up to its name, and like many of life's guilty pleasures, it wouldn't be a surprise if audiences wanted another helping’.
Under the Radar –‘The film makes the most of its premise and small cast, zipping from low-budget drama to sick black comedy to gruesome thriller’.
Movie Talk –‘Director EL Katz ratchets up the tension effectively as the game gets ever more sickeningly dark, but it's his cast's fine performances that keep us watching and give this far-fetched tale a degree of emotional plausibility’.
I have always enjoyed a good movie and ever since seeing Ghostbusters on the big screen I have been a fan of cinema going. Belfast it seems is having a cinema resurgence this year. I can think of three new cinemas that have all open in the past year. One of them is a new Omniplex which is located in Dundonald. Since it opened I have been to it about six times.
Who are Omniplex?
Omniplex are an Irish Chain of cinemas. They appear to be expanding into the North of Ireland and can now be found at Armagh, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Derry, Dundonald and Newry. The Dundonald cinema is the newest in the chain and opened in January 2009.
I stumbled upon this cinema when I was out for a drive one day during the Christmas holidays. As it was a pretty bleak time we decided to try it out. The cinema was brand new and everything had a very clean and new feel. Im not sure if we were but it appeared that we were the first customers of the day, perhaps even of the year. All of the staff seemed excited and happy to see us. We opted to go see Twilight which cost us £6 pounds each. I of course paid for both so it cost me £12 pounds. We had some drinks and nachos which were priced inline with normal cinema prices.
The cinema has 6 screens all of which are of pretty decent size. They all have the latest technology in terms of sound and digital displays. One screen is set aside for only showing 3D movies.
Our cinema was pretty empty I think about 10 in all. The movie was fine but at the start they had a small technical glitch. The adverts kept repeating themselves. Eventually the manager appeared and apologised. He thanked us for our patience and offered to give us complementary tickets. It took about 30mins to fix the problem when we were allowed to watch the show. Needless to say I was delighted with the service. We got issued with two free tickets on the way out and as we were in no rush we didn't mind the slight delay at all.
I have tried other Omniplex cinemas particularly the one in Carrickfergus and they all appear to be well run. The staff are efficient and friendly when they need to be. The movie choice is good and the concessions are pretty decent too. Overall Omniplex are a very good cinema chain and my first preference for movies in the Belfast area.
The cinemas also benefit from free car parking. For more information log onto http://www.omniplex.ie/.