Back in December, I talked to actor/comedian David Koechner about his big movie at the time, Anchorman 2. (Koechner, of course, plays Ron Burgundy sidekick Champ Kind.) But we also spent a couple of minutes discussing a low-budget independent film he had recently finished, Cheap Thrills. Here’s what Koechner said about it:
“It’s hard to describe because when we shot it, I didn’t think there were laughs in the thing. It’s a sinister thriller. But then I watched the movie with a couple of festival audiences, and they’re laughing at points in the movie. And I’m shocked. So it’s really—it’s a sinister thriller with dark comedic elements. Or, it’s one of the darkest comedies you’ll ever see.”
That pretty much sums it up. I just watched Cheap Thrills (it’s now available on VOD, and it hits select theaters March 21), and it’s… an experience. Dark, yes. Also: intense, entertaining, thrilling and occasionally hilarious.
Shot over 12 days, the movie involves only four actors, primarily, and a handful of locations. It’s about a guy (Pat Healy) who’s desperate for cash to keep his wife and baby off the streets—he needs $4,500 to avoid eviction from his apartment. Drinking at a bar, he runs into an old friend (Ethan Embry) and a rich guy (Koechner) and his young wife (Sara Paxton). Fortunately or unfortunately for Healey’s character, this particular couple gets off on paying strangers to do crazy things. And as you might expect, those crazy things get increasingly crazier.
Cheap Thrills is what a low-budget indie should be—short, edgy and kind of fucked up. (For me, Embry and Koechner are especially great in it.) It also asks interesting questions of humanity, like: Would you pee on your friend for $300? Would you break into someone’s house and defecate on their floor for $1,200? And most importantly, would you cut off your pinkie finger for $25,000?
It’s the sort of movie you watch while you and your friends are drinking beers and getting ready for a night out. In other words, a great pre-party movie. Or post-party movie. Just don’t take it too seriously, or you’ll end up without a pinkie. And possibly in prison.