Cheap Thrills (2013) – Review

What does it take to become from a caring family man a merciless animal? Apparently, it’s only a matter of money.

In Cheap Thrills, you get to experience a bizarre night, when the reunion of two old school friends gets twisted and culminates in the most sinister and gruesome night of their life.

The story revolves mainly around Craig (Pat Healy), a quiet and caring family man who struggles to make ends meet, especially after he gets fired from his low-wage job. With an upcoming eviction and a baby who needs to be fed, the emotionally anguished Craig drinks his troubles away and shares his problems with an old friend, Vince (Ethan Embry), who he randomly runs into at a local bar.

After catching up, the two men become acquainted with a married couple Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton), who are celebrating the joyful occasion of Violet’s birthday. Pumped up for a special night, the ridiculously rich couple starts a fun dare game, setting a playful extravaganza. And the prize? Lots and lots of bucks.

As the night progresses, what started off as a crazy drunken game escalates and soon gets out of control. The cool gang takes the party back to Colin’s house and the two friends having tasted the sweet taste of money find themselves dealing with pretty serious dares in exchange for money.

On one hand, Craig is on the verge of losing his house which means that his family would end up on the streets, whereas Vince is fed up with breaking gamblers’ arms to make some money.

These two gentlemen are the perfect victims for Colin, who plays manipulative host for the evening. At first, the dares are silly and childish. But, when Colin and his vegetable of a wife see that the two men are capable of doing way more serious stuff in order to win the money, they decide to crank things up.

By the end of the night, Craig and Vince will have done inexplicable things and will have become vicious animals. Apparently, no friendship or warm feelings matter when there’s a lot of money at stake.

With scenes that can turn your stomach and make you cringe, Cheap Thrills is a very, very weird horror flick. Sara Paxton’s indifferent and dull performance was unexpected and her part as the weird wife was quite disappointing considering her talent. There are also mixed feelings about the plot itself, as it takes a while to get to the point. There’s a big introduction, but it is important to get to know the characters and understand where they’re coming from, in order to justify or condemn their actions later.

It’s a funny thing what happens with the three male characters. Colin who is seemingly the bad guy comes off as particularly likeable, whereas Craig and Vince, who are the victims in this bloody game, are eventually the ones who set the rules.

Even though Cheap Thrills is more of an action thriller, you should be on the lookout for some limited yet extreme, gory scenes. Nothing like Jigsaw’s games in Saw, but more like Would You RatherCheap Thrills offers a few moments of proper monstrosities. But, unfortunately, nothing to be overly excited about.

At the end of the day, it makes one wonder, how far would one go for a few thousand dollars?


And to quote Tom Hanks in Apollo 13: Houston, we have a problem. And that problem is Cheap Thrills. 4/10



13 Responses to “Cheap Thrills (2013) – Review”
  1. I didn’t mind this.. in fact I thought it was a more-than solid black comedy/brutal thriller, but it was just so bleak and cynical I couldn’t help being disappointed as well. I thought Paxton was great though! Although I do have a soft spot for her, ha.


  2. rozeminho says:

    I share the same feeling, after watching this I felt kinda odd. I think it intended to be a black comedy but the balance of darkness and humor was totally off. I mean that last scene is pretty heavy, although I did chuckle at that final image before the end credits ha. Nice review 🙂


    • maria kriva says:

      Thanks so much! I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way!! 🙂 You’re absolutely right about the balance of darkness and humor…that’s probably the reason why it felt so weird!


  3. thycriticman says:

    Maria, you and I have agreed on many things in the past! But there comes a time when our love for horror must clash and this is it….I enjoyed the living hell out of Cheap Thrills! I thought the acting was incredible and it engaged me completely into the plot. I do agree that Paxtons character was a detour in an otherwise excellent film though! I do understand the weirdness of it all…but eh, I dig weird! Just not too weird.

    By the way, cool ass logo! The changes are sexy! Did you make it yourself?


    • maria kriva says:

      Oh thank you Louie, so glad you like the new layout! Yep, made it myself… I thought a few changes were absolutely necessary!! 😀

      It’s time? This is it then?? Haha! No, I understand that Cheap Thrills can be very entertaining, but maybe it’s not my cup-o-tea! I have to agree with the acting,though, they were all great (except from Paxton)! It’s just that it was so weird for me!! I mean..what happened in the neighbors’ house?!? I can’t get over that scene…who would think to put something like that in a movie?!?!? Hahaha!


      • thycriticman says:

        We should become best friends! So that I can one day ask you to make me a new logo when the time comes! I’m a really cool person, just ask my mom!

        Do not worry, I still value your opinion and highly respect your taste! That scene is really insane but I cannot deny laughing haha. I’ve seen much worse!


      • maria kriva says:

        Haha, anything for you Louie, clearly you’re not trying to use me! 😀

        No it’s okay, it’s one mild disagreement!! We’re still BFFs!!


      • thycriticman says:

        Use you? Not in a million years silly!



  4. Tom says:

    I’ve never heard this film described as an action thriller. . .interesting. I really can’t wait to watch this. I’m sure I’m in for a weird experience. . .

    Great review!!!


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