SXSW FILM 2013
By Dirk Sonniksen | March 12, 2013
Director: E.L. Katz
Writer(s): David Chirchirillo, Trent Haaga
Starring: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, David Koechner
Craig (Pat Healy) is down on his luck. He’s behind on his rent, his job sucks, and he’s got a wife and little one to care for. Things go from bad to worse, and Craig finds himself at a bar where he runs into Vince (Ethan Embry), a friend from the past. Things then go from nostalgic to crazy when Craig and Vince meet up with Colin (David Koechner) and his wife Violet (Sara Paxton). Colin and Violet are just out for a good time, and Craig and Vince turn out to be their drug of choice for the evening.
Director E.L. Katz put together a fun film for his directorial debut, with Cheap Thrills providing plenty of comedic moments to offset a disturbing premise. Writers David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga deserve credit as well for penning a script that keeps one pining for more of our four main characters. For me, it was less about what would ultimately become of our characters, and more about the fascinating relationships forged over such a short period of time.
Pat Healy does a fantastic job as Craig, the introvert that can’t make life work. Healy has a nice range and it will be interesting to see what Cheap Thrills does for his future prospects. Ethan Embry holds his own as well, going from the tough guy we see in the beginning to a bumbling loner that leaves a lasting impression. Kudos to David Koechner, who just does great work! Lastly, Sara Paxton is the perfect Violet, and her relationship with Craig makes one yearn for a sequel featuring the two as love interests.
Cheap Thrills has a Tarantino-esque thing going on, with smart dialogue that keeps this film moving, and stellar character development that gets the audience hooked early on. It doesn’t get bogged down with unnecessary forays into territory that leaves viewers slack-jawed and bored, in fact, I can’t recall a dull moment. Cheap Thrills is dark, dealing with subject matter that made me a bit uncomfortable, but it’s also a very funny film. Did I feel guilty laughing? I did, but everyone needs a release, no matter how cheap the thrill.