Set for release on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, October 20th through RLJE Films, Spree shows us what happens when “clout chasing” goes horribly wrong. Directed and co-written by Eugene Kotlyarenko (Wobble Place, Os & Is), alongside Gene McHugh, Spree is a Black Comedy that reflects the dark side of social media climbing and the desire to go viral in today’s digital age.
Set up with a resemblance to a live stream from hell, the film plays out like you are watching the whole thing from your phone. This makes watching it from the comfort of your room even more of an experience. The creators even go as far as to set up social media accounts where you can interact and follow Kurt under the username “KurtsWorld96.” Do you dare to dive in?
Spree follows Kurt Kunkle (Joe Keery: Stranger Things series, Slice 2018), a 23-year-old rideshare driver for Spree, and if you think your last Uber driver was bad, wait until you get in his backseat. Kurt is obsessed with social media and the act of going viral. For a while now, he has been active on social media platforms trying to gain a following and become a successful influencer. In today’s social media climate where anyone can go viral and become an overnight sensation it is no wonder there is an influx of people flocking to platforms like TikTok in an attempt to hop on that fame wave. There is a brief overview of Kurt’s history online which brought back popular online trends that many online users will recognize; like the popular “Draw My Life” videos that every popular YouTuber did a few years ago.
From the moment you meet Kurt, you can tell he is a bit much, to put it lightly. His overzealous approach to social media comes off as overwhelming to those around him, especially to his ‘acquaintance’ Bobby (Joshua Ovalle) , who most might recognize from his Vine days (you know, Jared, 19, who never fu*king learned how to read). Anyway, his channel, Kurt’s World, is not taking off quite like he had hoped. As a result he is naturally frustrated that other creators, that he deems inferior, seem to have these huge audiences and the success he thinks he deserves.
Kurt comes up with this idea called “#thelesson,” installing a set of cameras in his car to stream his rides. Suddenly instead of arriving at their next destination, his passengers end up dying one after the other as his viewers watch every second of it. In the middle of the madness, he picks up comedienne Jessie Adams (Sasheer Zamata: Saturday Night Live, I Feel Pretty 2018) who gets caught up in his mess as Kurt’s obsessed with her following and fame. It is up to her to put an end to his killing.
The film is star-studded with Horror veterans David Arquette (Never Been Kissed 1999, Scream 2000) and Mischa Barton (The Sixth Sense 1999, The O.C. series), along with Kyle Mooney (Brigsby Bear 2017, Saturday Night Live), Frankie Grande (Indoor Boys series, Henry Danger series), and John DeLuca (Teen Beach Movie 2013, Staten Island Summer 2015). That all said, Keery is phenomenal as Kurt, as it is such a complete turn from his character Steve Harrington on Stranger Things. Kurt is completely unhinged and unremorseful as he spirals out of control, especially once viewers begin egging him on, believing that everything is fake. If Patrick Bateman was an influencer trying to build a following, he would be Kurt, killing his way to the top.
Perhaps without the bloodshed, the act of going to the extreme to go viral is not a far-fetched concept. These factors in mind, Spree is a hyperbole about insta-fame, credibility, and the age of the influencer where anyone can have a form of power over an audience if they’re popular enough. Overall, Spree is darkly humorous with chaotic energy that runs rampant until the very end. Keery shines too, showcasing his ability to shift emotions and deliver a full-body performance. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Spree 4.5 out of 5 stars.