Quick Reviews: 'Spree', 'Inheritance' | Joe Keery Drives You Crazy, Thriller With Lily Collins
You might think twice about your next ridesharing venture after seeing director and co-writer Eugene Kotlyarenko's Spree because your driver may turn out to be a social media influencer wannabe who's willing to go to any length in order to gain followers. This one happens to be played by Joe Keery and the character's name is Kurt Kunkle, also known as ''kurtsworld96'' which is his online persona. Kurt has now for a few years aspired to be a viral sensation while a kid he used to babysit has become a popular streamer, Kurt on the other hand is a Spree driver (similar to Uber, Lyft etc.) who has cameras mounted all around his car for Twitch-like streams. He has a new plan to go viral as he poisons passengers when live, going on an unhinged killing spree. The movie itself gets slightly more than 15 minutes of fame so you might smash the like button but it doesn't really warrant you to subscribe or hit the bell.
There are quite a few good sequences in the film where Kotlyarenko and Keery get their groove on in terms of getting their quips and themes out there. The premise is undoubtedly great and it didn't feel outdated, much thanks to the humour which isn't just memes and references to viral phenomena which movies with similar themes often rely on, after the fuzzy setup it picks up and it's a fun ride for quite some time in the first act. Some interesting editing between shots from the different cameras, absurdly hilarious acting from Keery and Kurt's evolving obsession goes a long way. One strikingly great thing you might want to focus on is the chat elements of Kurt's Instagram and Twitch-like streams - you can really see the filmmakers' effort as they are eerily realistic in a way that I haven't yet seen portrayed in films.
Spree is much stronger when dabbling into dark comedy than it is with thriller and horror aspects, the horror kills and thriller motivations aren't all that interesting considering how much the premise is giving them a head start (however one kill scene that utilises 'The Gummy Bear Song' is just pure cinema).
This is a frustrating case in a sense because for every brilliant thing the film does, you can also mention a weakness in the same breath. Editing is great with car scenes but there's an obnoxious amount of split-screens with vertical framing which you get tired of while Kurt is really intriguing as a main character but then there is Bobby (Josh Ovalle) who also wears you out. The live chats are well done which isn't the case for the streams as they don't influence Spree's plot; there's an attempt at social commentary but you remove the social element when actions have no consequences. Somewhere here there is an outstanding short or a really daring feature, now there is just a modestly fun and flawed satire.
Smileys: Humour, premise
Frowneys: Pacing, screenplay, ending
Remember to smash like on this if you think this was Pog, otherwise I'll be just PepeHands and listen to 'The Gummy Bear Song' on repeat.
''Fool me twice, shame on me'' is the real takeaway from Inheritance, a not-so-mysterious mystery thriller from director Vaughn Stein whose last film 'Terminal' was another messy, dull and disorienting trek of storytelling. This time though he has given the writing duties to Matthew Kennedy, which to be real for a second, doesn't move the needle much more than what you got from the page the last time.
Featuring a cast of considerably recognisable names, the movie drops us to a manor where a wealthy politician Archer Monroe (Patrick Warburton) has passed away and as his estate gets inherited by his wife Catherine (Connie Nielsen), son William (Chace Crawford) and daughter Lauren (Lily Collins) according to his will. Archer has left Lauren a video where he points her to an underground bunker near the manor, only for her to find a man called Morgan (Simon Pegg) chained there whom she is advised to keep as a prisoner.
One thing that Stein has improved on with his direction is moving through scenes and sequences much more smoothly as this time around we get the information we need from each one so cuts to next locations make much more sense. However there is one big issue that still lingers with his approach which is just the matter of style, once again you could show five other thrillers next to his from five film students and you couldn't pick it out from the bunch. What do you want from your actors? Why are your characters lit unnaturally in natural environments? What do you want to say to the audience? Neither of the two films answer these questions and maybe when you get around answering them, actors like Pegg won't offset the tone of the movie with astonishingly bad performances and someone like Collins gets an emotional arc worth their effort.
Some of the faults in Inheritance do come down to the writing and crafts as well which of course doesn't help. The information alluded earlier comes from events from the film but the characters are without any—they continue to do dumb things just for the sake of the plot as Lauren is somehow the older sibling despite the casting choices and everything about Pegg's character is just so predictable. Pegg, to be fair, isn't getting any favours as the character is void of interest and the wig-facial hair combo is very distracting in every way possible. Lauren is also a character who gets thrown to the wolves due to decisions about what to tell about her, her husband and child serve no emotional purpose and that is something you can't get from slick lawyer suits. None of the movie's mysteries ever feel like worth solving.
Frowneys: Originality, characterisation, Simon Pegg, hairstyling
Shout-out to the poster, though.