Cheap Thrills (3/22, midnight)

“A long night of crazy dares [turns] into an existential ‘The Price Is Right’: how much does a man’s dignity cost? How about honor? Loyalty? His body? His soul? Cheap Thrills’ seriousness is cloaked in a darkly hilarious game of frat-guy oneupmanship.” — Scott Tobias, The Dissolve

After seeing 2012’s Compliance, we were enthralled with Pat Healy’s enduringly unnerving performance as a devious psychopath mind-gaming an entire fast-food joint’s worth of poor souls. In the jet-black chamber piece Cheap Thrills, the tables are turned on Healy as he endures a harrowing, Twilight Zone-y night with a charismatic, obscenely rich stranger (David Koechner, Anchorman). Debut director E.L. Katz expertly turns on the Haneke-like burn, as Koechner — who here deliciously plays against normal “goofball” type — pits down-on-his-luck Healy and his thuggish childhood friend (Ethan Embry, Empire Records) against each other in a slowly-building series of knife-edge, escalating dares that push the boundaries of both monetary reward and sanity. A wickedly satirical fairy tale to wish away the post-Great Recession blues.
Dir. E.L. Katz, 2013, DCP, 85 min.

Watch the trailer for “Cheap Thrills”!