Spree (2020)

Director: Eugene Kotlyarenko
Writer: Eugene Kotlyarenko, Gene McHugh
Cast: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Frankie Grande, Lala Kent
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2020

Kurt (Joe Keery) has been recording himself since he was just a kid, and broadcasting his life to the world. The only thing is – he barely managed to build a following and is far from achieving his dream of becoming internet famous. He earns his living as a rideshare driver and has come up with a new plan to go viral and finally attract the attention he so depserately craves. And if people have to die for his fame, so be it.

At the risk of being the kind of thrill-seeking audience that the social media/viral culture produces – the very culture that Spree would like to criticize – I have to say that the film unfortunately left me pretty bored.

The film poster showing Kurt in the driver seat of his car, looking towards the backseat. A bloody handprint can be seen on the back of the seat.

Spree sticks to its concept – only showing the things that can be seen on a camera within the narrative – perfectly and that part works very well. Maybe not surprisingly, given the ubiquity of cameras and the fact that the entire point of Kurt’s “quest” is to catch everything on camera and broadcast it to the world. So, the material is certainly there.

The thing is, though, that the film doesn’t really do anything interesting with it. Much like Kurt’s stream within the story, the film just doesn’t have that certain je-ne-sais-quoi to keep people engaged. Much of the problem here that it is way too simplistic in its critique of social media and the hunt for fame, allowing no shades of gray. Instead it leans more into the “just unplug” narrative.

Kurt (Joe Keery) driving his father Kris (David Arquette). Kurt has a gun in his hand.

This oversimplification made the film pretty boring, especially when coupled with the fact that the film concept didn’t really allow for much diversity in the way the scenes are shot or in the locations used. They do get some variety together, but it was an uphill battle. Joe Keery’s performance is good, but personally I have a hard time watching a character dialed up to 11 the entire time. So he was at his best in the rare quiet moments the film has to offer.

Overall I just didn’t feel that the film had anything new to say. And while I don’t think that every film has to keep saying something new, it should at least be interesting. And I was missing that here.

Kurt (Joe Keery) driving London (Mischa Barton) and her friends.

Summarizing: nah.

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