Very seldom is it that a piece of media makes me uncomfortable, I've seen my fair share of horrific images from seeing The Lover get stuffed alive in Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" to the gritty for the time surgery scenes in the 1966 cult classic "Seconds" (review soon to come), when I say that my initial viewing of 2020's Spree made me uncomfortable it is not a claim that is made lightly. Spree holds a mirror to the horrors to both the horrors of the modern internet and an increasingly fame obsessed American society. In a world where films such as "Knives Out" and "Get Out" are lauded for their social relevance, it is surprising to this reviewer that a film as deeply rooted into modern internet culture and social taboos as "Spree"didn't garner any traction, perhaps the film is too on the nose in its commentary, perhaps in the chaotic year of 2020 people simply wanted to escape from the horrors of reality and not be reminded of the toxic culture that can infest both certain corners of the internet as well as the US. Regardless of a lack of social buzz, a fate ironic given the subject matter of the film, "Spree"is one of the most important films made in recent years and questions the morals of a society trapped in internet age.
"Spree" follows Kurt a 20 something ride share driver and clout chaser obsessed with trying to garner e-fame and notoriety, we see his various attempts at garnering attention everything from vape reviews to siphoning off the popularity of this film's Paul brother stand in Bobby BaseCamp to little effect whilst becoming increasingly disillusioned, before enacting his final plan labeled #TheLesson. The true meaning of the lesson is never quite revealed and while I have my own interpretation, I feel that it is best for the sake of the review to leave it open to the interpretation of the individual. Spree is a wild ride that will make you question your morals and feel increasingly uncomfortable as you follow Kurt deep into his dark odyssey, Joe Keery does a fantastic job in this role and I'd love to see him get more serious work after Stranger Things ends, in a film that requires its lead to carry the bulk of the load, Keery's performance is both beautifully over the top and understated, there's almost a desire to root for him at times. Where his performance really shines is in the character interactions, his unsettling relationship with the unseen audience and his obsession with this movie's representation of real life social media star turned mainstream success Issa Rae in the character of Jessie Adams come to mind, as well as his relationship with Bobby. Seeing Kurt bounce off the films many foils is something that has to be experience to fully grasp the performance and I can't recommend you go watch it enough, as it is one of the best representations of both clout chaser and sociopath.
Where the fault lies in the stars with Spree is in overall heavy handedness with conveying its message, from the ride share app Kurt uses being called Spree to his vehicle being the vehicle for his killings, sketches such as the Bobby BaseCamp homeless vlog and monologues by Jessie Adams aimed seemingly directly at the audience can come off as obtuse and maybe a turn off for some. However I feel that with regards to the films subject matter there may not have been any other way to convey its message other than the obtuse, sometimes in art as in life the upfront approach is best. Spree is currently available to view on Hulu, go watch it.