The desire for social media followers sends a young man on a deadly mission to go viral in Spree, starring Stranger Things standout Joe Keery.
Keery plays Kurt, the owner of @kurtsworld96 on Instagram. An avid vlogger, Kurt spends his waking hours documenting his life for what he is hoping will one day be a legion of fans. Unfortunately for Kurt, his videos barely break the single-digit viewership range – and he’s been vlogging for ten years. After so many years of trying to build a following, Kurt decides that the only way to go viral is to go on a killing spree and broadcast it live.
A rideshare driver by trade, Kurt decks out his car with cameras and proceeds to pick up customers that he poisons and kills, all while attempting to find followers by stalking comedian Jessie Adams (Sasheer Zamata) and trying to feature on her social media account, as well as tending to his DJ father’s (David Arquette) new DJ’ing shenanigans, and having to deal with the negging of his fellow (successful) vlogger, Bobby (Joshua Ovalle) aka @bobbybasecamp.
Director Eugene Kotlyarenko tackles the disturbing trend of young people’s obsession with gaining popularity and status in the social media world and takes it to the next level. Kurt’s desire to go viral and gain followers has done a number on his mental health, turning him into a bonafide sociopath. While it’s unlikely to get to this extreme for people in real-life, this quest for followers and the dopamine hit from receiving ‘likes’ is certain to cause harm to maturing minds.
It’s a timely topic that needs as much coverage as possible to help raise awareness in the younger demographic of social media users, though preferably with some subtlety, as Spree lays the themes on hard, maybe too hard. This delivery of the film’s narrative themes doesn’t allow the audience any time for contemplation, but rather, they are fed the message in bite-size segments, akin to what people are used to seeing on social media platforms.
Spree is edited together in a found-footage style format using video from Kurt’s escapades, and it’s cut together quite cleverly with the footage forming a neat, linear story that genuinely works. It’s one of the film’s best elements, as the format keeps you engaged from start to finish. Helping that engagement along is Joe Keery’s performance as Kurt, which is phenomenal.
Rising star Keery carries the film on his back, completely drawing the audience into his world and giving them the opportunity to empathize with him through his portrayal. And while Keery is excellent in the lead, the film could have benefited more from giving viewers a deeper insight into the character’s background, as it is underexplored. We’re given a small look into Kurt’s home-life, but we never find out what led him down this path, and the events that shaped his character.
Despite some flaws in character development, Spree works well as a sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, and sometimes brutal yet totally entertaining piece of commentary on the state of social media obsession.
You can follow Kurt on Instagram @kurtsworld96 and on Tiktok @kurtsworld