Movie Review: Spree (2020)

From director Eugene Kotlyarenko, Spree is a black comedy (or horror/thriller?) film released in 2020. Seeking social media status and desperate to go viral online, Kurt Kunkle (Joe Keery, Stranger Things) sets out on a night of driving as a rideshare driver, livestreaming himself as he kills his passengers for a series he calls “The Lesson”. Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Sunny Kim and Josh Ovalle also star in various supporting roles.

+ Joe Keery as Kurt is so awkward and strange it’s hard not to feel sorry for him. But that bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest-on-the-pecking-order schtick makes him immediately somewhere between relatable and pitiable, and a character you really want to watch closely. Arquette as Kurt’s father, Kris, is not too different from Kurt in many ways, and there might be some deeper commentary on how we take after our parents – but I’ll leave that alone.
+ the vast majority of the film is shot from various cameras, be they from phones, security footage or webcams, in a way that truly makes the film seem like “one shot” (obviously not in the traditional sense). It often feels, intentionally so, like this is something the audience is viewing after the fact, having been cobbled together from various sources. There is a lot of the now standard and cringeworthy “Hey guys, how’s it going? Kurtsworld96 here, make sure you like and subscribe” etc, but all that sort of stuff goes over my head
+ the violence itself is never overly gratuitous, adding an air of realism to the already far too plausible plot. In some ways, I’d say it should have even been more graphic

– in the same vein as something like Black Mirror, these sort of anti-media messages fall a bit flat when you watch them on your expensive media devices. “Social media is so bad,” the film tells us. “Now go and tweet your friends about the movie and post a review on your MoshFish page,” I hear. This feels sort of like a more modern retelling of Uwe Boll’s 2009 film Rampage. That film had its ‘charms’, but I don’t know if overall it’s the kind of movie that should be the basis for things going forward?

> the whole tone of the film reminds me of Joker, in that Kurt is clearly the bad guy but he is so mentally unwell that I don’t want him to be a ‘bad guy’. I’m not comparing the overall quality of the two, just that they fit that same niche

Should you see this film: Overall, I did enjoy this. The format is relatively unique, a blend of a home movie and found footage, but Keery is incredibly captivating. It is certainly worth a viewing if and when it comes to a streaming site – unless that defeats the purpose of the film?

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