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Spree (2020), Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, (Horror Movie Review)

Spree (2020), Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, (Horror Movie Review)
8 10

PLOT: An awkward teen isn't getting the social media following he thinks he deserves, so he devises a plan to help him go viral; Use his ride-sharing job to live stream a killing spree.

LOWDOWN: I wrote once about how I haven't seen a film quite nail the social-media angle in a way that felt organic. I enjoyed the Zoom-inspired HOST but didn't dig on UNFRIENDED or NO ESCAPE (a title that belongs to the Ray Liotta flick only!) The Tick Tock kids and douchetubers are entities that I know exist (sadly) but are so far removed from my reality I can't grasp what they do or how they have become so damn rich. The Millennial/Generation Z social media sub-genre hasn't found its footing and hasn't made the same strides as the teen sub-genres did in the '80s and early to mid-'90s.

SPREE (WATCH IT HERE - OWN IT HERE) may be the best I've seen to tackle social media in a way that didn't come off laughable or sadly out of touch. Set around the character of Kirk Kunkle (Joe Keery) and his pursuit of internet clout, SPREE tackles the repercussions that the "influencer" generation has had on society. This strikes a delicate balance between humor and horror, with Kirk being likable and sweet-natured yet totally f*cking crazy. SPREE doesn't go dark and gritty, yet it never fails at showing us how delusion and unhinged Kirk is or glosses over his end game. Framed as more of a tragedy than anything else, I appreciated that Kirk wasn't painted as outright evil and seemed oblivious to the notion that views would not be something worth killing for.

Joe Keery nails the character with a one-two-punch of nuance and likeability. He's excellent as an awkward twenty-something who can't talk to a girl if his life depended on it, viewing his own existence through the lens of likes and follows. For playing the pretty boy on STRANGER THINGS, his little ticks and vocal cadences here sold his social ineptitudes and didn't make me once think of him as the Highschool bully turned hero from Netflix. There is a scene in the opening where Kirk explains (so pleasantly) his strategy on how he'll build his social media brand, and he mentions 9-11 and how it affected his family "real or not" that was so genuine and sweet, I nearly pissed my pants laughing. There is an underlying dark sense of humor in SPREE, which is one of its greatest assets.

Sasheer Zamata's Jessie is the one grounded character that gets pulled into Kirk's orbit. She unwittingly orders a Spree (this film's Uber) and, as an Instagram-famous comedian, becomes an obsession of Kirk, leading to a wild and crazy third act. David Arquette plays Mr. Krunkle as what I can only assume is a commentary on Justin Bieber's dad (look him up). As Kris Kunkle, Arquette plays a self-absorbed man-child who hasn't realized he's aged out of the 'cool guy' and spends his free time DJing at the local strip club. Kris Krunkle's obsession with fame seems to have planted a subliminal seed with his son and shows the family's dysfunction early on. I wish we had more of his character as Arquette is so fun in the role I wanted him to have a more prominent part.

A few issues do get in the way. The very end loses its bite and plays it safe than I would have hoped. SPREE is a dark comedy that doesn't neuter Kirk's willingness to murder. There are real consequences, which get a bit bloody at times, yet it ties itself up in a neat bow in the last fifteen minutes. It isn't terrible, but I hoped SPREE would be a bit more rouge in its landing and not give us the standard affair. The coda over the credits also overexplains the media problem in such a sloppy way; I just assumed it was lifted for the HUFFINGTON POST. This was the only time this felt overly heavy-handed. Spree mostly cuts away from any gore. This doesn't need to be the next DEAD ALIVE, but I would have liked to have seen Kirk go from friendly suburban kid to killer without the cutaways. We know he's crazy, so SHOW IT.

GORE: We get some blood splatter here and there but nothing that packs a big punch.

BOTTOM LINE: Joe Keery gives his best performance do date, both with his sly comedic timing and subtle neurotic tendencies. SPREE is a welcomed surprise that I wasn't sure would work but ended up being one hell of a surprise. It was both funny and unfortunate. As someone who manages a much younger crowd and their incessant need for online validation, this hit closer to home than I would have thought. SPREE isn't making a groundbreaking commentary, but it's creative in its approach and does it in a realistic way that I wouldn't be surprised if this type of killing spree happens sooner than later. Everyone wants to be an influencer, and SPREE shows how one awkward kid can take it too far.

SPREE comes to VOD and Bluray on October 20th, 2020.

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