There were moments when I was really with what Cheap Thrills was doing - moments where it rooted its filthy snout around in man id tossed out of whack, moments that were caustic and cruel and somehow simultaneously super funny. There were a lot of those moments actually.
The cast is totally game - although he's thought of as a comedian primarily, I'm prepared to call David Koechner a Scream King at this point; I mean, dude's already gotten two Thursday's Ways Not To Die devoted to him (see one, and see two) and now he's gone and creeped me out in a whole new way here. He's fantastic - the whole cast is good really, but he's the only one I bought at every single moment. (And I feel like I should maybe apologize to him for finding him so convincing?) But the other three legs of this quadruped beast all have their moments to shine, too. Sara Paxton is usually playing a joke, and she's playing it well, but she gets a couple moments where she allows the character's dullness to drip away and they're pretty immediately chilling.
But then there were moments when the movie was trying too hard - like way way too hard - and it stopped feeling organic and became plotted and forced. There were a lot of those moments too. It's obvious from early on that this movie wants to get to a very specific place and it wants to say a very specific thing, and its pig-headed determination kinda gets in its own way. Once the game is on and the inevitable one-up-manship begins ticking itself off methodically there isn't much sense of surprise left. I kept finding myself wanting it to suddenly jerk the wheel, to toss the cards in the air and wipe the pieces off the table and leap head-long into true madness, to no avail. Props for a killer final shot, though - the movie might not be as mad as it thinks it is, but that shot sticks.