Spree is one of those rare treats that will surprise you.
Admittedly I went into watching this film with low expectations and unfairly dismissing it for yet another commentary on the negative impact of social media.
What was presented however can be closely associated with both Taxi Driver and American Psycho as its inspiration. The former is that Eugene Kotlyarenko plays similar beats to the Martin Scorsese classic, and the later for its satirical take on the human psyche.
Where Kotlyarenko injects his own gaze into the public spectrum is through his offbeat humour and attention to detail in presenting a gonzo-infused view of social influencers on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Both director and his lead, Joe Keery (Stranger Things) researched these areas to encapsulate the personality that his character Kurt Kunkle portrays.
Profiled as 23 year old in search of infamy through his social platform who will stop at nothing to reach notoriety, Keery demonstrates a believably unhinged individual, a testament to his acting abilities and the level of attention taken into bringing his character to life.
Fueled by this desire, Kurt rigs up his car with cameras and signs up for a rideshare app called Spree, where he then ventures out in his shortcut to the warped American Dream by picking up would-be victims. At first, we encourage his maniac exploits as the victims of choice are suitable ugly characters that arguably warrant their fate, but the more disturbed Kurt becomes in attaining his goal, the more chaotic and wild his antics become.
Kotlyarenko’s storyline choices are further cemented with the introduction of fellow social climber, comedian Jessie Adams played by a magnificent Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live) juxtaposing Kurt’s own ascent with a seemingly genuine rise of her own. When Jessie comes across Kurt’s radar, his jealousy boils over and she becomes his new target and in doing so, furnishes the film with a riveting climax.
The film also boasts strong support roles in David Arquette (Scream franchise) as deadbeat dad Kris, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, and John DeLuca. Where it does fall short is that initial trigger point that sends Kurt over the edge, plus it lags in the middle act as it struggles to build up momentum and hold the audience’s interests through the leads indecisive phase in his social lesson.
In the words of gonzo journalism creator, Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride”.
It’s a modern take into the current state of The American Dream through the eyes of a wannabe social influencer on a murderous rampage.
There is much to delight in this gut-wrenching flight of fancy, highlighting just how deranged modern society has become.
- Saul Muerte
Spree is currently screening at select cinemas and available on PVOD with Foxtel and Fetch until November 11.
It will also be released on digital: iTunes, Youtube Movies, Fetch, Microsoft Store, Google Play from November 25.