In a world filled with YouTubers and social media influencers, it was inevitable that eventually we’d get a film shot in the style of a social media stream. We’ve seen similar with films like Unfriended and Searching, taking on the likes of social media whilst shot entirely from a webcam. However Spree is the first that I’ve seen that takes on social media almost entirely from live streaming or go pro recordings, and overall it’s a pretty decent attempt.
Spree is a 2020 comedy horror film starring Joe Keery as Kurt Kunkle, a failing social media influencer who works as a driver for a rideshare app called Spree. Fed up of his lack of viewers, Kurt decides to fit out his car with cameras and live streams “The Lesson”, where he instructs viewers on how to become famous on social media while picking up passengers and murdering them. One of the passengers he lets go is comedian Jessie Adams (Sasheer Zamata), a star and social media success who Kurt becomes obsessed with over the course of his murderous evening.
Spree is definitely a fun film. The comedic horror style works very well, especially in the first half although later on it does make way for a more serious side. There’s a decent amount of blood and gore too and it has a wonderfully cheesy B-movie vibe about it. What makes Spree so fun though is Joe Keery. His performance as an influencer is entirely believable and it’s his charisma and baby-faced innocence that makes this film watchable. He spends the entirety of the film like he’s high and hyped up on energy drinks and while this does make his performance a little over the top, this is exactly what Spree needs. David Arquette as Kurt’s dad also brings a lot of fun although his screen time is sadly lacking.
Despite Spree’s dark comedic feel, there’s a more serious story and commentary underlying this film. It might look as though it’s making light of social media influencers, but actually, it’s making a rather serious point of the pressures and negatives of the constant need influencers have to be liked and obtain more followers. Kurt’s story is rather sad, and even the other characters like Jessie are shown to have their own stories but still stuck in the same social media behaviour. The live streams used to shoot most of this film, with the likes and comments from viewers, emphasise the pitfalls and real-life issues with social media.
Admittedly this live stream method does get a little thin by the end of the 90 minute run time, and after the initial few murders, it’s only Keery’s performance that holds the film up to the end. It isn’t helped that aside from Kurt, none of his victims is particularly likeable and it makes them very difficult to relate to or care about. And this also goes for Jessie who despite her heroine status, becomes unlikeable due to how she too bows to the pressure of social media.
I’m not a fan of the YouTube and influencer revolution, so for me, Spree was an interesting take on this and social media in general. It has a good point to make and a serious message, although this may be overshadowed by the dark comedy and horror. With a great turn from Joe Keery, it’s a fun film but not entirely memorable.
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