Cheap Thrills: a movie that's like a twisted episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Carla and I saw Cheap Thrills on Saturday at Cinefamily in LA, and we loved every minute of this black suspense movie, directed by E.L. Katz. (It has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.)

Failed writer Craig has a wife, a baby, and an eviction notice taped to the front of his apartment. If he doesn't pay $4500 in back rent, his family will be on the street. Later that day his boss at the oil changing station informs him that he is being laid off, effective immediately.

Sitting in a local dive bar, contemplating his bad luck, Craig bumps into Vince, a high school skateboarding buddy he hasn't seen in five years. Vince is a loser (he collects loan shark payments from deadbeat clients), and Craig wants to leave the bar and go home just minutes after reuniting with Vince. Vince convinces him to have a drink with him. A few minutes later, they get invited by a loud man to join him and his beautiful much-younger wife at their table.

Colin explains that it's his wife Violet's birthday and he'd like them to have some drinks with with them to celebrate. Colin orders the most expensive bottle of tequila in the bar and tells Vince and Craig that he will give $50 to the first person to drink a shot. Before Craig realizes what's happening, Vince gulps his drink, and Colin hands him a $50 bill.

Next, Colin, who snorts coke openly (paying the bartender several hundred dollars to leave him alone) points to a woman in the bar and tells Craig and Vince that if one of them can make the woman slap him in the face, Colin will pay him $200. Craig approaches the woman, but doesn't have the heart, but Vince cleverly whispers to the woman that he'll buy her a drink if she slaps him and that does the trick. He gets his $200. The entire time they are at the bar, Violet is vacant, tapping on her cell phone and acting bored.

Colin's dares continue to escalate, and so do the payments. Craig starts to realize that the money Colin is offering to accept his increasingly risky challenges could help him out of his predicament, and he becomes more competitive with Vince to win the money.

Eventually, the foursome ends up at Colin and Violet's house, where things get really nasty, and it becomes clear that Colin and Violet are scary thrill-seeking psychopaths.

I'm not going to say anything more about the plot because I dont't want to spoil the creepy fun. I also recommend that you do not watch the trailer, because it gives away too much. (I'm glad I didn't see the trailer before I saw the movie.)

Cheap Thrills is like a twisted episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, mixed with After Hours, Strangers on a Train, When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It's in limited release right now, but if a screening comes your way, I highly recommend it. It's also available on iTunes, but it was so much fun to watch with a crowd that it's worth waiting to see it in a theater.

Cheap Thrills screening schedule