Ever since Stranger Things came and swept the world up in a storm of popularity, it’s been super fun keeping tabs on each of the young actors as they started doing other projects. Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown have been the most prevalent, but the others have been hard at work as well, including Joe Keery (Steve Harrington from Stranger Things). Today, we are looking at Keery’s newest film, Spree.
Spree follows an attention seeking Kurt Kunkle as he makes a final attempt at internet fame by devising an ingenious plan to get masses of social media followers to his live stream – and he calls it The Lesson.
After rigging his car with several cameras, Kurt sets out to enact his plan of live streaming himself doing Spree, a rideshare gig job. Although he has much more in store for his customers than just giving them rides. In fact, the very person who gets in his car (a racist asshole) becomes Kurt’s first victim in a murder spree designed to draw in viewers and popularity. After that, the movie gets into gear and gets batshit crazy real quick, and doesn’t let go until the credits appear.
I can honestly say that this movie gave me anxiety, and by the end I was super unsettled. Which, to me, suggests that this movie succeeded in exactly what it set out to do, even if it has its flaws along the way.
Spree is one of a newer trend of movies that all involved strictly in world cameras to show the audience a story. That is, everything you see is from an in-movie camera. Other’s like this one include Open Windows and Searching, which are both also worth a watch for sure. These movies can sometimes have a bit of a disorienting affect, but I would be lying if I said that the gimmick wasn’t interesting and fresh. In this case, everything is shown either in Kurt’s stream or through various surveillance or police camera footage from around the city. This gives a unique view but sometimes can be confusing or, like I said, disorienting.
But my anxiety was not from this gimmick. Not at all.
From my time watching Stranger Things, I have to know and like Joe Keery as Steve, a young man who gets into out of this world mischief with a set of fun and nerdy kids. However, in Spree, he is very much a different person altogether, and, frankly, someone who you might fear that a young star would grow to be.
To put it bluntly, Keery’s Kurt Kunkle is an absolutely terrifying look into mental illness and the effect of social media stardom has on the youth of America. In fact, it is so profoundly unsettling that midway through the movie I had forgotten that it was the guy from Stranger Things and had the thought to myself about how familiar he looked. It’s really rare to forget an actor you know mid-movie and wonder again who it is. It was that strange. To put it mildly, Keery transforms himself throughout this movie and goes deeper and deeper in a rabbit hole. It’s a must watch for this alone.
As I said, this movie is not perfect. There are plenty of decisions made by characters that make little to no sense, and it’s a big suspension of disbelief that Kurt could have made it as far as he did on his venture, but to be honest, it feels like what it is – an exaggeration of something that could feasible happen. A scary and entertaining exaggeration.
Spree is super hard to judge on its visual or audio presentation. It goes through a large variety of orientations and aspect ratios as we are bounced between visual source that are designed to be jarring and authentic. All I can say is that Spree confidently leans into its creative decisions and I think it lands on all fronts. Also, as things get wilder and wilder, the color palette becomes very exciting and the sound similarly grows in it’s excitement. It’s very effective.
Spree is a one disc release in an amaray case and a nice looking slipcover. The special features are as follows:
- Audio Commentary
- KurtsWorld96 Social Media Content – a suite of full social media posts by the main character
Our Recommendation for Spree:
Spree is a thoroughly inventive and thought provoking rollercoaster of a ride. Joe Keery gives an amazing performance that left me actually worrying about his mental health and also gave me a sense of anxiety that stuck around for a little while. Some people will find this as just an exciting and fun ride, but others (perhaps those who are more empathic) will see a real good look at a real problem with social media. Either way, this is a must watch.