Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Spree

Thirsty for a following, Kurt Kunkle is a rideshare driver who has figured out a deadly plan to go viral.

Cast

Joe Keery – Kurt Kunkle

Sasheer Zamata – Jessie Adams

David Arquette – Kris Kunkle

Mischa Barton – London

Josh Ovalle – Bobby BaseCamp

Kyle Mooney – Miles

Speedy

How can a movie be trash – yet equally as entertaining? This satire follows one man – and his followers – on a murderous road to internet fame.
Firstly, Spree nails it with the whole social media setting. It confirms just how cynical – and utterly stupid – some members of the younger generation can be when online. A perfect example is a scene where Kurt murders someone, and the comments start flying in.

“this is soooo fake”
“dat real?”
“OMG I’m calling the cops”,

and such phrases flood the screen and are so reflective of the modern world, that I actually laughed out loud in the cinema. It’s the perfect mix of disbelief and interference as half the teens watching him are quick to call it staged, the other half even quicker to (rightly) think it’s real and alert the authorities.

For those who aren’t a fan of multiple things happening on screen at once, Spree might give you a headache. It starts with some brief animation as the protagonist explains his background, but for the rest of the movie the screen is split live-action and digital / animation.
Kurt live-streams his entire journey with hundreds of people watching online, so it’s an electronic mess of words, emojis, ka-ching’s.. all whizzing up the screen at an incredible speed. Slightly irritating when you’re having to glance from left to right continuously to absorb the action whilst checking what his followers are saying in the comments.


Perhaps this is what gives Spree its novelty: it’s all happening in real time. A car hurtling around the city on a killing spree with live commentary from people watching (similar to that of a Police chase documented by a news team). Think Cloverfield (2008) with text popping up from viewers..

“OMG dat real?”

“that lizard thing is sooooo fake”

“can’t feel anything here in Chicago, but calling cops anyway”.

I suppose in a way Spree is strangely exciting..

Keery is superb as a social media-obsessed nutter, bringing adorability as well as pitiful desperation to his character. The actor captures everything about this particular calibre of person you’ve come into contact with online, including:

Teenagers and adults alike whose tunnel vision for popularity literally consumes their entire life. It doesn’t matter that their home has a front door they can walk through – and step outside to embrace other humans, fresh air, real life. Their mobile phone / computer screen is all that matters.

Their need to snap and upload continuous video footage or photos of their daily existence for validation and approval from friends and random people around the world (because everybody in London needs a total stranger from Latvia to give their  breakfast porridge a ‘thumb up’).

The genuine importance of gaining as many followers as humanly possible, and looking down on those who have nowhere near as many.
“I’ve got hundreds of followers – you’ve got  4”, as though we’re evolving backwards to playground-style mocking of a person who doesn’t have many friends – but digitally.

“follow me guys!”
“don’t forget to subscribe!”
“pass my name on to everybody you know”, etc.

Their mobile device is practically a life support, with everything being documented – from actually being in bed under the covers, through the entire day – until they’re back in that bed.

The classic on-the-sofa-slurping-from-a-bowl-of-cereal streamers who sit answering questions for ‘fans’ about where they are from and what they do, as though a celebrity on a talk show.

Keery portrays this brilliantly throughout Spree, and the movie steadily becomes not just entertainment, but a message. Kurt is so absorbed with his fanbase that his unhinged personality actually starts to seem normal as it fits in with everyday life. His sinister plans involving each customer’s ride, the way in which he broadcasts journeys, etc. It all looks relatively stable – but it’s not at all. Spree gives the middle finger to all those around the world obsessed with being ‘liked’ by large numbers of complete strangers. And so it should. Because these people need waking up and reminding that physical human interaction is how we function. Not being made to ‘feel good’ by a photo on a plasma screen.

One thing I’ve personally witnessed in recent months is a man on TikTok – stood next to a whiteboard that he continuously scribbled user profile names on. He was actually selling people off, like some crazed racing pundit-turned-auctioneer. The more followers and ‘gifts’ (someone basically pressing a button and awarding him an gold coin emoji) he got, the more dramatically he would shout their name out and ask others to follow them – as well as himself of course.
Incredible. A grown man, live-feeding himself on an app primarily aimed at youngsters, yelling at viewers to follow these complete strangers who were interacting with him, like some twisted game show presenter.

What happens when these people actually finish recording a video and then switch that phone off? Do they honestly think any of those people they chatted to are going to give a shit about them in a few hours?
Has the gratification from people they’ve never even met paid off?
They are simply digital characters on a screen – at the other end of the country or across the globe. The fact the vlogger may even start to feel emotionally involved with these ‘friends’ is so sad.

That said, if this really is the state of our world, then I assume it’s acceptable for me to download a virtual porn star and slop my penis around the screen without judgement?..

Spree is an alarmingly accurate exposure of the behaviour of people who truly believe they’re making a difference in the world – by talking to the screen of their mobile phone. And similar to a sinister episode of Black Mirror, it explores the psychological aspect of this to satirical perfection. The protagonist’s insane behaviour isn’t much of an exaggeration; it’s exactly how most people are online, how far they’re willing to go to have people watch them.
It’s a stark warning for parents or non-social media users, showing them just how self-obsessed people are whilst gorging on as much approval of total strangers as they can. 

Keery was the perfect casting choice; his doe-eyed expressions and creepy smile at the cameras are wonderfully strange (think The Grinch). But ultimately his character poses the universal online question – do you like him or not? You may pity him and fear his unhinged personality. Or you may find him adorable and support his relentless effort at securing internet fame.

This movie is enjoyable trash, fronted by a quirky performer who seems well aware as an actor how much of a circus various social media platforms are. And played out to the sound of Peggy March’s I Will Follow Him (end credits) is deliciously apt, however strange a taste the movie leaves.
Spree is worth a watch if you can’t find anything else to put on, but a lot of people – especially TikTok users – will probably hate it.
It will hit a nerve or strike a chord.

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2021 by .
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