“It’s a numbers game, and right now I’m a zero” – Kurt Kunkle
It’s the modern age movie for the modern age audience. 2020’s Spree makes its appearance on Netflix and the Generation Z(ers) amongst us have plenty to get excited about.
Joe Keery (Stranger Things) stars as Kurt Kunkle (AKA @Kurtsworld96), a wannabe influencer who has struggled to get his foot through the door of the vlogging world. Performing to only single digit viewers, Kurt lacks the charisma and nuances of modern interest. But he’s finally found his niche in the market. Posing as a driver for Spree, a fictional ride-hailing service, Kurt decks out his car with cameras, and gives his viewers a ride unlike any other. The customers he picks up aren’t making it to their destination, and the world begins to watch in horror as Kurt’s addiction to social media growth takes drastic hold.
Whilst there’s a market here, which will perhaps intrigue a certain demographic, Eugene Kotlyarenko’s Spree fails to do little more than further demonstrate the dangers of a society bound by social media desire.
We the audience view the events of Spree, like the fictional viewers of Kurt’s little world. Camera phones, webcams and GoPros document Kurt’s atrocities, through streaming services and Instagram live.
Kurt’s life through a lens is no place to be. Even witnessing it all unfold second hand, it’s far from stylish or pleasant. We get a little insight into his home life, and there’s marginal understanding for his want to succeed. But the way he goes about it is mean spirited, preposterous and most importantly, meaningless.
Keery’s portrayal of Kurt paints an unsettling picture of mental health, and one’s crippling desire for fame and fortune. Kurt is unpredictable and awkward. Every interaction with those around him just feels authentically challenging, and each moment he spends begging for media attention becomes increasingly irritating.
There would be a strong argument for appreciation, to counteract it’s negative, narrative outlook, had it felt a little more grounded in reality. Spree often feels like a slog, that takes you from one weird encounter to the next, with very little context other than a string of errands.
Despite being advertised as satirical, Spree fails to manage even that. It’s as uncharismatic as it’s leading protagonist (or antagonist) and lacks any sort of subtlety with its final delivery.
All would have felt slightly more worth it, if it had reached a climax that felt deserved or warranted. Spree’s send off however, does little to end the disappointment on a high note.
When you discover the title itself, and the idea behind its plot, is simply a cash in job for a quick gag, you lose all expectation you had going in. Keery kills it in this role (literally), but beyond that, there really isn’t much worth giving the thumbs up. And you can forget about smashing that like button!