Director: Eugene Kotlyarenko
Runtime: 93 minutes
Cast: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, Mischa Barton, John DeLuca, Josh Ovalle, Lala Kent, Frankie Grande, Kyle Mooney, David Arquette
Synopsis: Meet Kurt, from @KurtsWorld96. He dreams of sitting atop a social media empire, but for now he drives for the rideshare company Spree. Fortunately, Kurt has come up with a livestream full of killer entertainment – murdering his passengers. In the middle of all this madness, a stand-up comedian with her own viral agenda crosses Kurt’s path and becomes the only hope to put an end to his misguided carnage.
Spree is a 2020 American black comedy horror film directed by Eugene Kotlyarenko [0s & 1s (2011), Wobble Palace (2018)].
The gonzo-style satire follows a social media obsessed rideshare driver, Kurt Kunkle [Joe Keery – Stranger Things (2016)]. The film also stars Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney and Mischa Barton, and was premiered on January 24, 2020 at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival as part of the NEXT category. It is written by Eugene Kotlyarenko and Gene McHugh with music by James Ferraro and cinematography by Jeff Leeds Cohn.
Kurt Kunkle is a Gen X young man who is obsessed with becoming a social media star and going viral. He frequently livestreams and makes video content but it rarely surpasses more than single-digit views. A child he used to babysit, Bobby, is now an internet star who frequently livestreams and has high viewer numbers, making Kurt jealous and reliant on Bobby to spread his videos to reach viewers. Kurt, who works as a driver for a rideshare app called Spree, fits out his car with cameras and begins a new livestream one day titled “The Lesson” where he instructs viewers on how to get famous on social media. Bobby promises to share the stream with his viewers later, while leaving disparaging comments on Kurt’s stream.
Kurt starts picking up passengers and poisoning bottles of water that he hands to them, killing them. Kurt spends his time killing and disposing of his passengers but doesn’t have any viewers besides Bobby who believes the killings are fake and accuses him of being boring. While driving a new passenger and trying to get him to drink the water, Kurt accepts another passenger, Jessie Adams, who is a comedian with a large social media following. Kurt is awestruck by Jessie who is unimpressed by Kurt and his obsession with gaining social media followers and leaves the ride. Kurt then kills the other passenger.
Joe Keery’s performance is engaging enough as the fame-hungry psycho in this pretty unpleasant and depressing thriller which crudely combines social-media critique and slasher comedy. But Spree often has a rather confusing overload of screens-within-screens, splitting and reshaping and including real-time commentary on Kurt’s bloody deeds.
Spree’s intention is to comment on the shallowness of social media culture, however the critique itself seems rather shallow and not particularly original, although that lack of depth and creativity may be precisely the point.
In cinemas now.
Images courtesy of: RLJE Films