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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Spree' Review: Joe Keery's Ridesharing Driver Wants Viral Traffic By Any Means Necessary

Joe Keery sitting in a camera-rigged car
RLJE Films

You might think twice about your next ridesharing venture after seeing director/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 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 stream. 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 The premise is undoubtably great and it didn't feel outdated, much thanks to the humour which isn't just memes and references to viral phenomena which movies with similar themes often rely on, after the fuzzy setup it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, peak 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 (not) influencing Spree's plot, there's an attempt on social commentary but you remove the social element when actions have no consequences. Somewhere here there is an outstanding short or more daring feature, now there is just a modestly fun and flawed satire.

Smileys: Humour, premise

Frowneys: Some issues with pacing, screenplay and 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.


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