14th August 2020 (UK Theatrical)
Thirsty for a following, Kurt Kunkle is a rideshare driver who has figured out a deadly plan to go viral.
Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette
So enters Spree. A film that’s happy a global pandemic is taking place, because without it they’d be zero chance of this garbage being released in cinemas. If this is honestly the new standard of cinematic release let’s just open the floodgates to films by students or religious organisations. At least then we could have a good chuckle, which is something severely lacking in Spree. Amongst practically everything worthwhile.
During the films opening 10 minutes I found Spree to be showing some promise, especially with its premise. So here’s the gist: a social media obsessed 20-something is desperate to go viral after various failed attempts to gain a significant amount of follows. In a deranged turn he decides to broadcast murders live from his Spree car (essentially Uber) to get trending. That synopsis by itself certainly has potential. It has the potential to be a dark comedy full of scathing satire. It has the potential to be an absurd but fun over the top blood fest. And finally it has the potential to bore the living daylights out of you. Guess which potential it achieves eh?
It’s a shame because Joe Keery (Molly’s Game, Stranger Things) does put his all into the role and is a convincing presence as Kurt. But what begins as a deranged and possibly interesting character is diluted into someone painfully annoying to spend time with. The same and worse has to be said about the supporting roles, who are usually Kurt’s victims. The film completely falls apart when Kurt starts to pick up these passengers, who are ALL utterly unconvincing as human beings. The dialogue is so unnatural and the acting is simply atrocious in these scenes. It feels like a badly scripted YouTube prank.
I also don’t think I’m missing the point of the film. It practically beats you over the head with its messaging of the danger of being too media obsessed after all. There’s no nuance. Each character is a different type of internet troll come to life. One could make a point that this is purposeful and its creating a heightened tone with its messaging. But I doubt something this unenjoyable was intentional. It’s a case of the movie thinking it’s much smarter than it actually is.
For the most part Spree is awful to listen to and look at. Every shot is purposefully amateur as we see the entire film through phone or dash cam footage. There have been similar successes in this department with missing person thriller Searching and the iPhone-shot Unsane. But whilst those films were mostly successful experiments, Spree actually feels worse for its gimmick. It’s as nauseating and irritating as it’s characters, and would have been better served if shot in a more traditional manner. Or a experimental YouTube film, perhaps taking a lead out of Blair Witch by blurring the lines of fiction and reality in its marketing.
Joe Keery tries
Painfully obnoxious and annoying
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