Ever since the release of Stranger Things, Joe Keery has become a household name because of his portrayal of fan-favorite character Steve Harrington. He is beginning to branch away from the nostalgic TV show with roles in films like Free Guy, but there is a low budget indie film that truly showcases his range as an actor. The only problem is, his performance in said indie film, Spree, may be the only memorable thing about the movie.
Kurt (played by Joe Keery) is a part-time driver for the Uber-esque app, Spree. He is also an aspiring content creator with no following. As he drives around the city, he begins his plan to become a viral sensation called The Lesson. The only thing is, The Lesson is him murdering as many Spree passengers as he can before he gets caught.
Conceptually, the film is pretty simple but also compelling, as it commentates on becoming famous on the internet and our desire to be noticed. However, the execution of this concept fell flat to me. I was kind of bored with the direction the plot was taking and was only eager to see what the next kill would look like. While it does take a look at how twisted the internet can be with content creators, I just felt they could have gone deeper with it; mostly in a livestream comment section. Kurt put a poll in his livestream to have them decide what to do with a stand-up comedian he captured. While his options for the poll were rather funny, being “MARRY,” “F***” and “KILL,” they kind of glossed over it and there could have been more of a call out on the participation of bystanders that either don’t know any better or sick individuals living out a fantasy.
One thing that this film does well is that they give way to some surprisingly creative and hilarious kills. Such as when Kurt believes he accidentally killed a famous D.J. in his car and the cops become suspicious, only to have her wake up, shoot a cop in the head, and bolt from the scene. This one kill in particular is unexpected and sidesplitting, as it comes out of nowhere but is well-executed. While it acts more as a deus ex machina, that does not mean it isn’t effectively used. Another kill that is also quite shocking is when Kurt kills an influencer with a power drill. His calm, nonchalant demeanor makes for an unsettling experience when viewing the short scene.
Many of Spree’s performances are rather underwhelming, forgettable or agonizingly cringy to watch; some supporting performances work, many do not. You will forget that David Arquette is actually in this movie as Kurt’s dad. But of course Steve Harrington himself, Joe Keery, manages to hold the film together with his awkward and unhinged performance as Kurt. On initially viewing Kurt, you can tell he is odd but does not seem dangerous. That is until we witness his calmness at killing random citizens left and right, no matter the character. Joe Keery’s performance is both unlikable yet strangely charismatic, which allows for the audience to be appalled by his actions but unable to look away.
In general, Spree is rather mediocre and uninspired. While its premise is creative and the cinematography is rather interesting given the small budget, you can’t help but feel underwhelmed. Joe Keery really delivers a fantastic performance that truly makes the film worth watching, even with the rest of the film’s shortcomings. Additionally, some of the kills were rather jaw-droppingly simple and hilarious. Despite all of the positives, the film struggles to remain engaging and the message it tries to send falls underwhelmingly flat. However, that does not mean you won’t have a fun watching experience.