David Koechner and Sara Paxton Talk Cheap Thrills and More!

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David Koechner and Sara Paxton Talk Cheap Thrills and More!What would you do for a cheap thrill? That’s the question posed in this dark horror-comedy hybrid, starring Pat Healy (The Innkeepers) as Craig, a struggling family guy who loses his dead-end job and heads straight for the pub to drown his sorrows.

There he encounters an old friend (Ethan Embry, Vacancy), and before long the two are roped into a round of drinks by a charismatic, wealthy stranger (David Koechner, Piranha 3DD) along with his enigmatic wife (Sara Paxton, The Last House on the Left).

The couple engage the men in a series of light dares in exchange for money over the course of the evening, with each challenge upping the ante in both reward and boundaries. It seems like easy money, but the couple’s twisted sense of humor pushes the limits and make you wonder just how far you’d be willing to go for money or cheap thrills.

We got a chance to sit down with the actors who play the couple, and by the time the interview was ended, we were buck naked and $50 richer.

Dread Central: So you guys play a sadistic couple, we know this, but the trailer doesn’t say much else… how would you describe your fictional selves?

Sara Paxton: I play Violet, and Violet is Colin’s trophy wife. She appears to be really bored and aloof and kind of just really into her cell phone, but she actually is very dark. I think she is a psychopath. I don’t think she has any feeling or remorse or any sort of a conscience or anything like that. I don’t know how to say that; I don’t want to give anything away. But I think with all the shenanigans that happen, she is sort of the puppeteer behind everything that is happening.

DC: So is she manipulating you, David?

David Koechner: I don’t think Colin sees it as manipulation. He sees it as the relationship, and it’s all about love for him. Like, what would you do for the person you’re in love with? But clearly these two have damaged psyches if they are able to so casually have these two guys go through all of this, so what does it say about their own broken makeup? And that’s how people find each other – you have common pain – and so that is why these two are together and so willing to manipulate others, for I guess their own edification.

DC: It’s described as a black comedy…

DK: It’s a dangerous thing because I never saw it as a comedy. And I was surprised when I watched it with the Festival audience how many laughs there are in the film. Well, I realized that because it’s so intense and such a pressure cooker, people will get pulled in and start making the agreements with the people in the film that the laughter reminds them they are watching something and not really making that agreement. And they are able to laugh together so they are able to release that tension; if we are just watching a movie, we wouldn’t really do that. So it’s like chicken or brave. Brave no chicken. So that’s how I see it. It’s a difficult thing to describe when you say, ‘What is the movie?’ I always say it’s a sinister thriller with dark comedic undertones. Because if you say it’s a dark comedy, people’s expectations will be different when coming in. Because you know, ‘Where was my laugh?’ But if you say it’s just a sinister thriller, that has a different level. If you use the word ‘comedy,’ people are going to go, ‘That wasn’t comedy; why you do that to me?’ But if you find these things in it, then you’re having your own experience. So it’s a tricky thing to describe.

DC: Which is probably difficult when it comes to the marketing aspect. But I am wondering from both of you, as actors not concerned with advertising, what did you like best about your characters?

DK: Well, for me personally it was something unlike anything I have done before. So that was the fun part. And to honestly work with these three other people was intentionally rewarding. You don’t know that going in. I have worked with Ethan before but not Pat and Sara. Immediately there was this chemical reaction happening on the set that was just fantastic.

SP: I agree. I couldn’t have said it better. I knew Pat already (from The Innkeepers) so I didn’t know what to expect. I also was drawn to the script and the character because I have never played anyone like Violet before. So that really, really intrigued me, the challenge of doing that. And like David said, working with these guys was pretty awesome.

DC: And also I know that your director, E.L. Katz, worked on You’re Next, but this is his directorial debut. Now, You’re Next also has some comedic elements to it, but I understand Cheap Thrills is a little different…?

DK: Yeah, this is not a mayhem picture at all. It’s a thriller at heart.

DC: So when you are making these two guys do these evil things, they don’t have to kill anybody?

DK: People get hurt. But the sad thing is people get hurt for the enjoyment of this couple.

DC: Where does the film mostly take place? Is it a fairly claustrophobic movie?

DK: It’s in our house. (We lure people in) with money. This is a thoroughly entertaining and engaging film. You’ll get a level of engagement, personal engagement, with the film unlike most pictures you watch.

SP: That’s awesome; he nailed it.

DK: My wife had to walk away twice when watching at home. She said, ‘I can’t take it,’ and walked out twice. And audiences tend to laugh. I would say there is no laughter when watching it at home, but like I said earlier, people were laughing in the theater because they were making this communal agreement that we wouldn’t do it, right? We are all just watching something for fun.

The acclaimed comic thriller Cheap Thrills is now available exclusively on the Movies On Demand platform of Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Bright House Networks cable systems, prior to its March 21st theatrical and digital VOD release. Cheap Thrills joins a select few titles to receive pre-theatrical debuts exclusively on cable.

The directorial debut from E.L. Katz, Cheap Thrills was acquired by Drafthouse Films, in partnership with Snoot Entertainment, following its world premiere at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, where it won the “Midnighters Audience Award.” Cinedigm holds the home entertainment distribution rights, including DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, and digital platforms.

Cheap Thrills follows Craig (Pat Healy), a struggling family man who loses his low-wage job and is threatened with eviction. In an effort to delay facing the music at home, he heads to a local bar and encounters an old friend (Ethan Embry). The two friends are roped into a round of drinks by a charismatic and obscenely wealthy stranger (David Koechner) along with his mysterious wife (Sara Paxton). The couple engages the two friends in a series of innocent dares in exchange for money over the course of the evening, with each challenge upping the ante in both reward and boundaries. It seems like easy and much needed money, but the couple’s twisted sense of humor pushes just how far Craig and his friend are willing to go for money and cheap thrills.

Cheap Thrills

Cheap Thrills

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Staci Layne Wilson