Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Cheap Thrills

David Koechner playing for keeps.


Cheap Thrills
Photo courtesy Drafthouse Films

E.L. Katz's debut feature is a nasty little excursion into the cesspool of human nature that easily lives down to its title. The movie is gross and bloody, but it has a jaunty air. Despite some feints in the direction of social commentary, it's basically a clever genre exercise, and you await each increasingly gruesome plot development with happy anticipation.

Old high-school friends Craig (Pat Healy) and Vince (Ethan Embry) run into each other in a bar. Craig is a failed writer who just got laid off from his job as an auto mechanic and is about to be evicted from the apartment he shares with his wife and infant son. Vince is a surly loner, an ex-con getting by doing strong-arm debt collections. Neither of their lives has turned out the way they'd once hoped.

Soon these two fall in with a couple at a nearby table. Colin (David Koechner) is a jolly loudmouth in a snappy hat; his wife Violet (Sara Paxton) is a dead-eyed blonde with a disconcerting gaze. They're celebrating Violet's birthday, and Colin is flush with cash to finance the evening's fun. Craig and Vince are invited to join the party. "You will never forget this night," Colin tells them, "even if you never see us again."

Colin is into games (and booze and pills and cocaine). He tells Craig and Vince he'll pay $200 to whichever of them will provoke a woman at the bar into slapping him. Vince wins, and is instantly hooked. After the party moves on to a strip club, he scores another two bills for smacking a stripper's butt. When an angry bouncer confronts them, Colin offers Craig $500 to punch him out. Craig does and gets creamed in return. He awakes in Colin's mansion in the Hollywood Hills—the party's final destination.

It's hardly worth the effort to read this picture as a demonstration of the way in which the idle rich get their kicks degrading the lower classes. Its real interest is much simpler: What will Craig and Vince not do to keep extracting money from their sadistic host? Will they do this for $300? How about that for $1200? Nice guy Craig is resistant at first; but when he's offered $4500—a sum that will solve his rent problem—to do something he never imagined himself capable of, he caves. And the games have only just begun.

Most of the actors are familiar from low-budget indies like Compliance and The Innkeepers, and they're solid. Koechner is the biggest name, and he appears to be having a ball deploying a curdled version of the comical bonhomie he's perfected in hits like the Ron Burgundy films. The movie looks a lot better than it needs to, and it's a lot more fun than its grisly specifics might suggest. Come for the carnage, stay for the laughs. And don't get too attached to the little white dog.

NEXT: Would Cesar Chavez Have Wanted Forced Unionization? UFW Says "Yes!"

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  1. wow, sounds like a wonderful movie, lol


  2. Needz moar trigerz

  3. I’m interested only because I really liked The Innkeepers. Although the premise behind Compliance was strong, I have a hard time getting into stories where the audience is basically doomed to watch people repeatedly make bad decisions until the foreseeable tragic end. There’s enough of that in real life.

  4. Wow, an outline of the entire plot AND a spoiler…………..you should write reviews for the NY Times. They’d love you there.

  5. “And don’t get too attached to the little white dog.”

    Unless this happens in the first five minutes I guess there is no reason for me to go see the film anymore. Thanks!

    1. Yeah, that was my reaction.

      Way to fuck up a movie review, Kurt. And thanks for the detailed explication of the plot, too.

      Like most trailers these days, by the time I finish the review, I figure there’s little reason to see the movie.

      1. At least don’t put the spoiler in the front page summary where one can’t help but see it.

        1. See, I don’t get that.

          It’s one minor plot point, how empty and meaningless is your life that you need that preserved or the movie is ruined?

          1. If it’s that minor why bring it up in a review? Just to be an asshole?

          2. I’m guessing that knowing, in advance, that the dog is going to get greased significantly changes the viewing experience.

  6. More spoilers:

    Alice wakes up.

    Dorothy gets back to Kansas (or, in the movie, wakes up)

    The Hardy Boys solve the crime.

    It was old Man Withers in a rubber ghoul mask.

    African-American Jim finds out he’s a free man.

    The great vampire/werewolf battle was just a vision of what might have been.

    1. Ahab dies tied to the whale.

      Ilsa leaves on the plane with her husband; the crooked cop joins the resistance.

      Bill and Ted pass the final exam with the assistance of various historical figures.

      1. Ulysses kills the suitors.

        The main characters die, except the ghost (who’s already dead) and Horatio.

        Old Yeller marries Lassie and they live happily ever after (I haven’t actually seen that movie, so I’m giving my best guess)

      2. Hans Gruber plummets to his death.

        Alfie asks himself, “What’s it all about?”

        Nigel enthusiastically rejoins the band on stage and they embark on a tour of Japan.

        1. Jesus gets the girl though, right?!

          1. Jesus or Jesus?

            1. What, there’s a sequel?

              1. I think TCM should show zombie movies on Easter to celebrate the undead Jesus.

          2. No. Jesus gets the boy.

        2. Luke has sex with his sister, makes up with his dad and they all dance with muppets.

          “Rosebud” actually referred to a case of hemorrhoids he had.

          A park ranger shoots Leonard on Mount Rushmore. Sexual innuendo ensues.

          The Beers win the Denslow Cup.

      3. Fonzie makes the jump.

    2. The Titanic hits the iceberg.

      The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7.

      Silkwood gets run off the road and dies in a car accident.

    3. “The great vampire/werewolf battle was just a vision of what might have been”

      News flash, that movie was spoiled before it ever began

    4. They kill the shark.

    5. Those fresh-faced American college boys whip the Russians and then go on to win the gold medal in ice hockey.

    6. Starbuck’s an angel. Yeah that’s right a fucking angel. YUP, watched every goddamn episode, side series, webisode and that’s what it came down to. Starbuck’s a freakin’ angel. Whatever.

      *bitterly takes drink of golden liquid from a small glass*

      1. Do you take your yak urine neat or on the rocks?

  7. Sounds like fun. And you guys shouldn’t whine about spoilers, seeing as Joffrey is getting killed in this next season of Game of Thrones.

    1. Not cool.

      At least you didn’t spoil Daenerys’s death, which is the one that will really piss the audience off. Eaten alive by her own dragons? She deserved better than that.

      1. “She deserved better than that.”
        I beg to differ.

      2. To be fair, the dragon only eats her as foreplay before it screws her blue. After which she starts a tribe of blue people who communicate telepathically with other dragons that they ride/fly around in perfect harmony.

        Then in the next season, the Lannisters show up to mine a rare spice. There is a lot of fighting between the two groups and it looks like Daenery’s people are in trouble until Tyrion (who via an enchantment can possess the body of one of the large blue tribesman) switches sides to oppose his ruthless father.

        Or something like that.

        1. I thought it was weird when they introduced Gargamel Lannister (where was he hiding all this time?), but his cannibalism is even weirder.

    2. Well thank god Ygritte lives.

      1. Keep dreaming. Martin is cruel to his audience in the books, and so is the show. Anyone surprised by Ned’s execution or the Red Wedding has literally no idea how much more of that they’re in store for.

        1. The bonus of loving the bad guys is they generally have a much longer shelf life. Though Ramsay’s time is probably winding down because he’s not nearly so clever as he’d like to believe. But Littlefinger & Roose will be around for some time to come.

          1. With Martin, you never know. Good, bad, he’ll off a character (or maim them, or whatever) the instant he feels like it’s pertinent to the story. And Ramsay is making enemies by the truckload.

            Roose: People fear you.

            Ramsay: Good.

            Roose: You are mistaken. It is not good. No tales were ever told of me. Do you think I would be sitting here if it were otherwise? Your amusements are your own, I will not chide you on that count, but you must be more discreet. A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule. Make it yours.

            1. My hope is that Ramsay will pull another clever stunt like he did with Reek at Winterfell, but that seems highly unlikely. You’re right, far too many people hate him now & would love to see his girls turn on him. Which, much as I love the chaotic whirlwind of depravity that Ramsay is, would be hugely satisfying.

              Do you think they’ll bring Jeyne in this season? From what I can tell from trailers & such, the Bolton storyline is pretty divergent from the books — it will never not irk me that Ramsay calls himself “Snow” because, uh, no. The whole driving purpose of his life from birth is to be a Bolton.

              1. Ramsay is the exact kind of malignantly cruel person that tends to cause people to go out of their way to kill you. And Martin is nothing if not trying to be “realistic” in his characterization, and the Ramsay character just seems to have a glowing “someone is going to kill him with prejudice” sign over his head. However, Martin does like to surprise, so who knows. Theon/Reek seems too broken at this point to do it, though he would potentially be the best candidate.

                I have no idea about the Jeyne storyline. The show is diverting more and more from the books, and the whole fake Arya Stark thing would take up some screen time for little gain. We know Ramsay is a shithead; we don’t need to know he’s pretending to have one of the last heirs of Winterfell as a wife.

                I have a feeling that there are going to be some pretty significant changes from the books soon (more than already), especially if they think that Martin can’t finish in time (though I would assume he was contractually obligated to do so, but who knows).

          2. Team Baelish, 100%.

          3. Wait…

            You think littlefinger is a bad guy?

    3. GoT Spoiler alert: more floppy wieners in Season 4.

      1. South Park has ruined that song for me now. Wieners is all I hear…

    4. If this is a real spoiler, then fuck you.


    Boston Bomber was Triggered

    “Did FBI pressure push Boston bomber over the edge?”

    Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, say contact with the FBI may have been a ‘precipitating event’ to the bombings last April.

    I guess they’re hoping the jury will be a bunch of Jezebels? No, millennial beta males? I dunno. But fuck me if that doesn’t just say, “Give me the goddamn death penalty and be quick about it”

    Also – the backup plan they are a apparently using is, “Blame the Dead Guy”. Which is usually a good idea. Influential Big Brother and all. THAT should work a lot better.

    1. He deserves the death penalty for his dress sense alone, amirite?

    2. It used to be that in capital cases in federal court, the judge could give you the death penalty unless the jury unanimously spared your life. Now, a single juror can veto a death sentence. If that happens (as with Mousaoui [sp?]), get ready for some jury-bashing.

  9. I’m watching the RedLetterMedia review of this, and they spoil the dog part as well.

      1. How can you spoiler a movie that doesn’t even make any sense?

        1. Fear not, Prometheus 2 will clarify everything.

          1. Yeah, when I heard about that I thought it was a joke at first. I mean, Prometheus was terrible. I’m the first to admit that Ridley Scott tends to work on a “does really good movie, does shitty movie, rinse, repeat” formula, but Prometheus was really off the scale. Worse than Hannibal, which I considered his prior worst movie. And now a sequel? To a prequel? Whaaa???

            1. I didn’t mind Prometheus. Hated The Counselor, though.

            2. What the fuck is a Prometheus?

          2. Nooooooooooooo!!!

    1. He’ll be bunking with David Gregory, right?

    1. placed in the back of a road pirate vehicle

      heh heh heh.

    2. This one is borderline for me. You are required to have your license on you while driving. A game warden can demand to see your license while hunting, even if you’ve committed no infraction.

      We can debate the need for those laws, but you’d have to say that IS the law. It’s different than a pig demanding you prove your citizenship as there is no law requiring you carry ID for such purposes…yet. It’s also different from a pig randomly searching your vehicle without probable cause. It’s more like someone asking to see your lift ticket.

      Where is everyone else on this?

      1. I don’t think you do actually have to have your license on you while driving. You can sign an affidavit attesting to your identity in lieu of it. As for game wardens demanding to see a license, I’m thinking that’s bullshit in most cases because I don’t think hunting seasons/licensing should even be enforceable on private property.

        As to your lift ticket comparison, I’d agree if it was an owner of the road demanding to see your right to access it through a toll or license he requires. When it comes to private property, I think it should all be open access to any person.

        1. Like I said, I’m torn.

          I think the requirement to have your ID on you is a state by state thing.

          I agree that the existing laws are clearly not libertarian in nature and are a far cry from anything resembling natural rights, but I don’t see this as the same as searches or demanding to see ID to prove citizenship either.

          Regardless…the cops are dicks either way.

          1. Now I’m going fishing on public property.

            1. Don’t forget your permission slip from the King. 😛

              1. Actually the wind just picked up again…I’ll ask the King for a raincheck.

        2. I can see the need for hunting licenses. For example, if you have a field in a flyway, you could theoretically shoot thousands of ducks during the migration (both to and from their nesting grounds) and that would impact all hunters.

          A hunting license is mostly about management of a resource that is transitory.

          That said, here in Minnesota a lot of things the game wardens used to be able to do have been scaled back because they have been transitioning from traditional game management activities into LEO activities.

          For instance, they lost the right to come into your fish house unannounced. That was after they tried to bust a guy for smoking pot in his fish house. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/mn-…..70062.html

          In my opinion, if they had stuck to regulating game laws they would have been fine, but they have gotten into the whole LEO shit thing and now are having to play by their rules.

      2. Francisco,

        Everyone should be on board with the idea that unless there is probable cause it is unnecessary and intrusive to have the government set up check points to check if everyone has a drivers license.

        We should stand against these trends, because that’s what they are.

  10. Speaking of cheap thrills, the Atlantic rejoices at the appearance of a new scholarly journal:

    “Why It’s Time for the Journal of Porn Studies

    “Porn is everywhere, thanks to the Internet’s effective distribution, and finally scholars have a venue for considering the phenomenon seriously….

    “So pornography remains undertheorized. In the public sphere, there are very few serious ideas about what porn is or how it works or what it means to us, beside from the obvious….

    “On the larger goal, though, can Porn Studies articles like “Gonzo, trannys, and teens ? current trends in US adult content production, distribution, and consumption” or “Fair-trade porn + niche markets + feminist audience” or “Porn’s pedagogies: teaching porn studies in the academic?corporate complex” or “Deep tags: toward a quantitative analysis of online pornography” actually deepen the way people talk and write about pornography?

    “I don’t know. At least they define a terrain beyond simple Manichean representations of pornography as wholly good or bad.”


    1. I don’t understand why anybody would even spend the money to produce more porn. Other than the hairstyles and pubic barbering, everything has already been done. And not only that, but it’s all available for free online, so there’s absolutely no reason to buy anything new.

      At least, that’s what a friend who’s not married told me.

      1. Auditions?

      2. It must still be relevant, several prominent French intellectual founded the field of Postmodern Porn Studies.

        Jacques Orff
        Foucault ofyou
        Jean-Paul Satyr

        1. You forgot Hugh Gerdain.

          1. Immanuel Kunt checking in for the Germans.

      3. The future looks dim for the Privates and Vivids of the world when they must co-exist with Xhamster and Pornhub. I’m guessing cable and satellite revenue will sustain them for a while.

      4. The next big realm of porn, advertising and product placement.

      5. I know a dude who records himself having sex with prostitutes and keeps a pay website. He makes quite a bit of money from it. Enough so that he has goes on extensive first-class flight/accommodations sex tours 2-3 times a year.

        There is still money in porn. Lots of it. Just like there is still (ever was in the first place?) money in bottled tap water.

  11. my friend’s step-mother makes $81 every hour on the computer . She has been unemployed for 5 months but last month her income was $17791 just working on the computer for a few hours. read review…….

  12. money is very important for every person.I earn a lot lo money through online jobs.I earn at least 90$ per hour,I work at least 5 to 6 hours a day and fulfill my all necessities.if you also can get an online job. visit the site given below.. http://goo.gl/ZC87k7

  13. More Torture Porn. Yawn.

  14. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.


  15. jolly loudmouth in a snappy hat; his wife Violet (Sara Paxton) is a dead-eyed blonde with a disconcerting gaze. The

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