“Cheap Thrills” has attracted some serious critical buzz, acclaimed for its edgy dark humor. Don’t believe the hype.
This is a staggeringly stupid movie, an emptyheaded indulgence in the worst human impulses.
It is a film about cheap, lurid thrills, as promised, and so in that sense in might be a success.
But the satire is dull at best, making the same points about the dark sides of unchecked capitalist greed and the ultimate emptiness of human existence that have been made countless times before.
The picture follows one-time friends Craig (Pat Healy) and Colin (Ethan Embry), who reunite at a bar one evening and are convinced by a wealthy couple (David Koechner and Sara Paxton) to perform humiliating stunts for cheap cash.
These range from defecating in a neighbor’s home to beating each other up, and gradually become darker and more grim, including an unwatchable scene in which the tandem races to devour the remains of a tiny undercooked dog.
Craig and Colin are desperate and struggling; Craig, a family man, has just lost his job and Colin badly needs cash.
Morality has a funny way of falling to the wayside in these situations.
The movie’s not actually interested in that idea, though. It’s a series of gross-out scenes intended to shock and nothing more.
Directed by E.L. Katz
Starring Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner
Playing at Cinema Village