Kurt Kunkle (Joe Keery) of ‘Kurt’s World’ is a self-proclaimed social media influencer and content creator who makes videos of his everyday life, such as playing video games and driving around in his car. The thing is though that Kurt doesn’t actually have any followers. He takes a job as a “Spree” rideshare driver and hopes to spice his content up by decking out his car with multiple cameras and streaming what goes on with his customers. Taking place across one day and night, events turn increasingly psychotic and violent.
‘Spree’ follows this trend of so-called screen movies which include the likes of ‘Searching’, the ‘Paranormal Activity’ series and ‘Unfriended’. In such movies, the events play out entirely on screens, in this case of cameras and mobile phones. The subgenre loans itself well to thriller and horror toned narratives as the alternation of the tracking mobile camera and absolute stillness creates a sense of tension, while scary sequences can be facilitated in a stylised manner.
‘Spree’ is a bonkers movie that builds to an insane finale with Joe Keery’s performance as the deranged Kurt Kunkle at the centre of it. Keery, whom audiences should recognise as Steve Harrington from ‘Stranger Things’, shows impressive range in the role, initially evoking deep sympathy from the audience as he confesses to feeling lonely and depressed about being unpopular, but staying resolute in his optimism. He’s excellent at imitating the social media persona in his informative, enthusiastic narration which never brushes off his innate awkwardness and desperation. As he embarks ever further in his vengeful rampage, his gleeful, sinister performance has you completely absorbed. Keery carries the movie effortlessly – this guy is going places way beyond the Netflix sci fi series he’s best known for.
At one point in the movie, Kurt says that if you’re not documenting your life, you don’t exist. It’s a scary thought because in this day and age, that’s what a lot of people on social media honestly believe. It’s not just Kurt’s agenda either as throughout the film, you witness other characters who obsess about each other’s followings, and film one other in a sinister power play. The closing montage really bats the social commentary home and while certain parts are really unbelievable, and at times you wonder how much of ‘Spree’ is really all that different from what we’ve seen before on the likes of ‘Black Mirror’ and films like ‘Nerve’, it’s still one hell of a ride and an entertaining, thought-provoking black comedy.