Maybe I’ve been out of the loop, but I had not heard a peep about this movie until it showed up on my Netflix home screen. I hadn’t intended to choose a satirical horror movie that night, but as the trailer automatically played, I found myself instantly intrigued by the creativity in both idea and execution. The funniest (and also scariest) concept in this movie is that we have all met a guy like Kurt Kunkle, who is so obviously deeply damaged, but is also convinced that he is special, or unique, and is outraged that the world does not agree.
The story follows a young man as he tries to livestream his way to success, filming his day working for a ride-share app. Obsessive about his viewing numbers, Kurt attempts to gain the respect of Bobby, a boy he used to babysit who has made it big on the internet. Though Kurt does not initially seem altogether unhinged, he almost immediately sets to killing his passengers in an attempt to garner views. The first few passengers he kills by poisoning water bottles in the back, and originally, you are sympathetic to his journey (or as sympathetic as you can be with a serial killer) because each of his passengers is ruder than the last. When comedian and semi-celebrity Jessie Adams gets into his car, however, the tables turn. Sitting in Kurt’s backseat is someone with access to thousands of fans. He quickly tries to promote himself on her livestream, but Jessie is entirely underwhelmed by him, and quickly ends her ride. Later, after more murders that get increasingly more gruesome, Kurt winds up at Jessie Adams’s show, and listens to her criticise his obsession with fame, before delivering a phony speech about removing herself from social media. Fooled by her speech, Kurt decides that he and Jessie must be soulmates, and traps her in his car. The casting of Kurt as a young, white man, with serious social disillusionments about his place in the world, and juxtaposing that against a successful, confident black woman, feels right for, as the review from Collider puts it, ‘” American Psycho” for the digital age’. While the second act is perhaps dragged out, the third act is filled with just the right amount of gore for a horror movie of this style, and the satire of the entire film feels very grounded, especially with the vlog film style.
This film does not come without its pitfalls, however. While the film is already fairly short, with a runtime of only 93 minutes, about 30 minutes of it is wasted time that did nothing to advance the storyline, the character, or even, really, the suspense. There is also a loose storyline of Kurt’s father, a washed up DJ, which is not fully realised or satisfactorily concluded. While the core storylines and characters are intriguing, it felt as though there was a struggle to even meet the hour and a half mark, and Spree probably would have fared far better as a short film.