sat 25/05/2024

Spree review - a wild ride through social media madness | reviews, news & interviews

Spree review - a wild ride through social media madness

Spree review - a wild ride through social media madness

Eugene Kotlyarenko's lurid satire is a bonfire of the online vanities

Killing time: David Arquette as Kris, Joe Keery as Kurt

Allergic to that word “influencer”? Afraid that social media is the death of civilisation as we’ve known it? Then this movie may be for you.

Despite its overt absurdity and compulsive over-the-topness, director Eugene Wobble Palace Kotlyarenko has delivered a cortex-frazzling alarm about the hazards of living a life wholly defined by touchscreens, emojis, tweets, selfies and narcissistic self-obsession. Goofy, floppy-haired Kurt Kunkle (Stranger Things’ Joe Keery) drives a cab for the Uber-like service Spree, and meanwhile has been failing miserably to build himself an online following as @KurtsWorld96. “It’s a numbers game,” he confides, “and right now I feel like a zero.”

Goaded by the sensational media success of Bobby (Josh Ovalle), a kid he used to babysit and who now dazzles his legions of followers as @bobbybasecamp, Kurt decides to go for broke. He fills his cab with Go-Pro cameras and sets about murdering his passengers, whose live-streamed deaths he’s certain will make him a star on anything with a screen.

It’s ghoulish yet hilarious. Kotlyarenko and co-writer Gene McHugh have squeezed many black-comic gems into their story, even if these sometimes get overshadowed by the deluge of split screens, multiple camera angles and perpetually-scrolling comments from the unseen keyboard warriors as Kotlyarenko evokes feeding-frenzy online voyeurism. It may be just a flip aside, as when Kurt drives through an encampment of homeless people under a freeway and dismisses them for their “zero social media presence”.

Kurt’s first victim is Frederick, a far-right Breitbartian archetype who calls Kurt a “libtard” and a “snowflake” and declares that “I’m white and I’m proud”. Disgusted, Kurt primly asserts the validity of all ethnicities, but though he may be objectionable, it isn’t Frederick who’s about to become what the press will call “the Rideshare Killer”.

Kurt’s deranged quest for followers grows ever more monstrous. A riotous sequence where he gives his passengers (including Mischa Barton) a thrill with a high-speed ride through a used-car dump ends in his victims being devoured by mastiffs or drilled into bloody oblivion. His attempt to ingratiate himself with DJ uNo (Sunny Kim) inadvertently sparks a shoot-out with the cops, while his relationship with his raddled, burnt-out father DJ Kris (David Arquette) is the definition of so much that is wrong with modern parenting.

There’s great support from Sasheer Zamata as whip-smart comedian Jessie Adams (pictured above with Kurt) who becomes the kind of conscience of the piece as she recognises that a 24/7 social media frenzy is not a sustainable form of existence. Her part in Kurt’s downfall earns her an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s TV show and some deliciously satirical press coverage, including a drolly mocked-up New Yorker profile and a Variety article headlined “Jessie Adams’ Next Target: Pay Inequality in the Industry”. In fact Kotlyarenko has probably overloaded the goodies, since you can barely take it all in at one sitting. Maybe that’s not a bad fault to have, though.


Kurt’s deranged quest for followers grows ever more monstrous


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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