This black comedy/thriller/horror of a rideshare driver and wannabe social media influencer who’s gone off the deep end in his quest to be noticed tells an effective and energetic tale via smartphones, body cams, car cams, security footage, and the like thanks to a steady hand from director Eugene Kotlyarenko.
Kurt Kunkle (Joe Keery) leads a life of obscurity as a rideshare driver for Spree who still lives with his mom, much to his dismay–still better than staying with his deadbeat dad (David Arquette). Kurt’s attempts over the last many years at developing a social media following have failed with his only slight connection to the world of online influencers and Youtube stars being a former babysitting charge, Bobby (Joshua Ovalle), who’s found great success exactly where Kurt hasn’t. That’s all about to change, though, with what Kurt has planned for his next shift as a Spree driver. If he can’t achieve fame then he’ll gleefully aim for infamy.
While this isn’t the first horror movie to go the route of filming things from the viewpoint of phones/computers/some device with a camera (Searching & Unfriended spring to mind), I think it’s still fresh enough to not entirely be some lame gimmick. Plus, Spree mixes things up well not just with a variety of cameras conveying the action but often there are several different shots for the audience to view simultaneously–as in half the screen’s a body cam shot while the other half is a car cam, or there’s also a third angle from the phone camera in someone’s hand. It might sound chaotic and headache inducing, but they made it work. I’ll also say that when various on-screen comment feeds are visible via character’s phones/etc the steady stream of “faggot” this and “retard” that lend quite the air of authenticity.
Joe Keery (Steve from Stranger Things, by the way) as Kurt pulls off the task of being an average, unfulfilled guy who hasn’t matured much beyond his teenage years–only this one has a few screws loose/missing. Keery’s Kurt does truly despicable things and he’s absolutely no anti-hero despite some of the people he crosses paths with being repulsive in their own right, but I didn’t get the impression the viewer was supposed to idolize Kurt even if we laugh at certain blood-soaked antics. He’s a sad, empty guy who based his entire self worth on the value social media gave his life only to eventually lose his marbles after years of unfulfilled obscurity–certainly not a role model.
The rest of the cast does well enough as various passengers Kurt picks up with Sasheer Zamata as an up-and-coming comedian being most beneficial to the proceedings. That’s enough plot and character so you can be as fresh as possible going in since all I’ve described so far is covered early on and not knowing is a lot of the fun–you’re welcome! Just know the handful of criticisms I have are rather minor as well as spoilerish so I won’t be sharing but they aren’t a deal breaker, by any means.
Even as someone who’s never had nor wanted a social media presence of any kind I do know what the whole thing entails (as I don’t live in a shack on a mountain) and I think Spree captures the amateur, immature Youtuber spirit well though certainly not in a flattering light. The fact that things never stray into overly serious territory and they keep the black comedy tone throughout, even/especially when horrible things occur, works well for me and I enjoyed the final wrap up. If you’re familiar with how social media rules the world for many and enjoy a good black comedy/horror on the extremes one might go in order to gain followers I think you’ll find this a worthwhile 90 minutes.
7 out of 10 Wannabe Influencers
Spree – Available in select theaters, drive-ins, on demand and digital August 14th.
Adem lives with his husband, dog(s), & cat(s) in an Arizonian city where any time not spent with/on the previously mentioned creatures is filled with writing, rowing, baking, and whatever else the day brings.