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Film / Spree

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"All eyes on me! I want to be seen!"

"If you're not documenting yourself, it's simple: you just don't exist."
Kurt Kunkle

Spree is a 2020 American satirical black comedy crime horror-thriller film co-written and directed by Eugene Kotlyarenko, starring Joe Keery. Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton and Frankie Grande (the half-brother of Ariana Grande) also star in smaller roles, and the film also features notable names behind the scenes — James Ferraro as composer, and Drake as executive producer.

Kurt Kunkle (Keery) is a young man fixated on becoming a viral star. His drive to win his five minutes of fame is as unbridled as his obsession with social media, having spent years filming hundreds of vlogs on his channel "Kurt's World" with barely a handful of views to their name. When he finds work as a driver for a rideshare app called Spree, Kurt fits his car out with cameras and begins a new livestream titled "The Lesson", where he lets viewers in on his ultimate plan to become famous — and just how dark and deadly it is.

The film has been compared by critics and cast members alike to a digital-age equivalent of American Psycho, Nightcrawler and Taxi Driver.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adam Westing:

  • Ambiguous Situation: Itís unclear how uNo survived the poisoned water, when everyone else who drank it didnít.
  • Ax-Crazy: Kurt is a sadistically violent narcissist who goes on a live-streamed killing rampage just so he feed his insatiable desire for attention and internet fame.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Two of them kill a pair of influencers that Kurt takes to a junkyard.
  • Anti-Role Model: Kurt. While somewhat relatable due to being something of an outcast, even online, he's also repeatedly shown as being pathetic, which contributes to him being an outcast in the first place. His murder spree just emphasizes how much he is not someone to emulate.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Nobody believes that Kurtís actually killing people, even as the attacks get increasingly violent and Bobbyís death is filmed. Regardless, they keep watching rather than call the police or report Kurt to his social media. Jessie later calls the audience out for it during her fight with Kurt.
  • Arc Words: ďAll eyes on me! I wanna be seen!Ē, Jessieís Catchphrase. It also sums up Kurtís motivation to get famous.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: uNo (who is Korean) speaks stereotypically mangled English.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Kurt's first (actually second) victim is a bigot on his way to a meeting. He makes racist remarks that upset Kurt, tries to get him to say "I'm white and I'm proud", and calls him a "snowflake" and a "libtard", so there aren't many tears shed when he drinks the poisonous water.
    • Another of Kurt's victims is rude and hits on Jessie. She later uses her encounters with him and Kurt in her stand-up act.
  • Bad Influencer:
    • Kurt wants to be a viral influencer, but he ultimately isn't very good at it. However, people do tune in once they find out he's actually killing people, so he turns out to have a point. He even says that he would rape Jessie, not because he wants to, but if more people would watch it. In the end, "The Lesson" catches on in extreme far-right circles, suggesting that Kurt becomes this trope personified posthumously.
    • uNo is an influencer who is shown to be extremely rude, ignores everyone to go on her phone, and refuses to talk to Kurt unless she's ordering him around.
    • Bobby is a jerkass who sets fire to money in front of homeless people, eggs Kurt on in private but ignores him in public, and encourages him to continue with the Lesson. However, he doesn't deserve to be murdered, and it's implied he didn't think Kurt would go through with it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Jessie is at home with her grandmother, and someone knocks on the door. This happens at the same time Kurt is shown going up to somebody's door to knock on it, while ranting that Jessie's audience should rightfully be his. We're led to believe that Kurt is going to Jessie's house to kill her. But then it turns out that the person knocking on Jessie's door is her manager coming to drive her to her show, while Kurt had actually gone to Bobbyís house to confront him about not promoting Kurt's stream when he said he would.
  • Basement-Dweller: Zig-Zagged. Kurt is 24 years old and still lives with his mother. On the other hand, the film takes place in California, which has a high cost of living, and Jessie also seems to live with her grandma, which is portrayed as a positive/normal thing.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: After Kurt goes viral, there's a lot of conversation in the chat that does Lampshade Hanging such as pointing out when Jessie has disappeared.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jessie is able to stop Kurtís rampage, but she had to kill him to do so, and not before he had already killed almost a dozen people, including his parents, Bobby, six passengers, a GoGo driver and a cop. While Jessie is hailed as a hero by the public (and receives a substantial career boost), Kurt becomes a folk hero on the dark web, and itís implied someone will try to finish what he started.
  • Book Ends: In-universe. At the climax, it's revealed that Kurt's mother was the first victim of his killing spree, and his father was the last.
  • Boom, Headshot!: uNo kills one of the cops this way, resulting in a police chase and ramping up the hunt for Kurt.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • When uNo is waiting for Kurt to return, she snoops in his car, finding his gun. What does uNo do? She takes selfies and video with it. And from how she holds it, itís a miracle that she didnít shoot herself!
    • Kurt stops to fix a faulty camera as opposed to killing Jessie first. Because of this, she's able to get a Heroic Second Wind and kill him.
  • The Ditz: The two socialites and uNo arenít exactly the brightest people on the planet.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Referring both to the rideshare app Kurt drives for, and the spree killing he commits on his stream.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Subverted. When one of his passengers starts making racist remarks, Kurt seems visibly uncomfortable, but he quickly makes it clear that he's simply concerned that the guy's statements might put people off watching his stream.
  • Everything Is Racist: One of Jessie's videos has her claiming that charcoal face masks are really an excuse for white women to wear blackface.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Kurt seems unable to tell jokes and doesn't have a sense of humor, taking everything extremely seriously.
  • Expy: Spree is one for Uber. Thereís also another rideshare service called GoGo, likely a parody of Lyft.
  • Family Theme Naming: Both Kurt and his dad Kris have Alliterative Names that are four letters long.
  • Fan Disservice: At one point, Kurt showers on stream. Itís a shirtless (and implied-nude) Joe Keery... who is mentally unstable and covered in Bobbyís blood.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Kurt is fairly sociable to his passengers, before brutally murdering them. By film's end when it's revealed he murdered his own mother, he casts aside his jovial nature and both murders his father, and tries to kill Jessie in cold blood.
  • Final Girl: Played with. Jessie is one in terms of Kurtís victims, although she had no connection with the others.
  • For Want of a Nail: If it werenít for the faulty camera distracting him, Kurt would have been able to kill Jessie.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The junkyard scene ends with Kurt coming towards the third passenger with a drill before cutting to the car, now covered with blood, inside a car-wash.
  • Hate Sink: Despite him being the protagonist, there's absolutely nothing likable about Kurt, and you're not supposed to root for him.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Kurtís hair looks much better after showering in Bobbyís bathroom.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Jessie gets one while Kurt is distracted, leading her to kill him.
  • Internet Safety Aesop: The concept of the movie is about a man, called Kurt, who's desperately trying to achieve online fame and resorts to murdering people for shock value. One character, Jessie, is a social media star who does meet Kurt and survives the experience with him, and learns something from him. In one of her stand-up shows, she makes a speech about how desperate people are for fame and that there's untold baggage that comes with it, she ends her show by deleting her apps and smashing her phone. This lesson doesn't seem to last- she takes a selfie after killing Kurt, and later leverages the incident for her career.
  • It's All About Me: Kurt is so hellbent on getting people to pay attention to him that he'll murder people, including his own parents, without a second thought. In Kurt's world, everyone seems to exist only to promote him and give him attention. At the beginning, during the montage of all of Kurt's videos and his attempts to build a following, he does a "Draw My Life," in which he attempts to make 9/11 about himself.
  • Jerkass:
    • Kris, big time. Heís sleazy, takes advantage of his sonís attempts at fame and is overall unpleasant to be around.
    • Bobby is nasty towards Kurt. He also does videos where he pranks homeless people with fake money.
    • uNo is very self-absorbed, treats Kurt like a glorified servant, and ignores him online.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Bobby is rude and mean to Kurt, but he is right that 1) Kurt acted like his killings were to be faked, but werenít, and 2) that his videos arenít very good, with lack of charisma and an awkward tone.
    • Kurt does have a point that the way Jessie films some of her videos is difficult to watch.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jessie can come across as harsh due to her brutal honesty and Hot-Blooded demeanor. But unlike most other characters in the film, her frustrations are more justified due to the stress that comes with fame. By the end, she's the closest thing the film has to a hero.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk:
    • Bobby makes videos pranking homeless people by offering them money that turns out to be fake. Then we see one video where he supposedly gives a homeless person a real hundred dollar bill, and is surprised that he ends up using it to buy food for all his friends. While it's still a tasteless stunt for his audience, it's at least an example of Bobby doing something nice for someone else. Except not, because Bobby tells Kurt that he set the whole thing up and it wasnít a real homeless person.
    • Kurt may be a murderer, but he genuinely loves his mother...or so it seems. We later learn that he'd murdered her without a second thought at the start of the movie.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After Kurt boasts that nobody can stop him just as he's about to run over some homeless people, he crashes his car — though it isn't fatal.
  • Loser Protagonist: A Villain Protagonist example with Kurt - he's usually shown with unflattering clothes and hair-style, is shown to lack an audience simply due to lack of charisma or comedy, and his attempts to earn one come off as being pathetic. Word of God explicitly stated that Kurt is meant to be pathetic, so that no one will try to emulate him.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Kurt manages to gain 50,000 followers, but gets killed by Jessie immediately after.
  • Momma's Boy: Kurt is far closer to his mother than to his dad. It doesnít save her from being his first victim.
  • A clout-chasing ride-share driver and wannabe vlogger starts murdering people on the eponymous live-streaming app in order to become famous.
  • No Social Skills: Kurt's inability to get his videos to the trend is down to his lack of charisma and awkwardness. He doesn't have the presence or energy needed to make his videos entertaining. Bobby might tease the homeless at one point but is aware enough that he can make his videos entertaining to watch.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • We never find out how Kurt killed the GoGo driver.
    • Itís not shown how Kurtís mother was killed, as the camera only shows the outside of her house. And all we hear is her screaming.
  • Not Quite Dead: When uNo passes out from drinking the bottled water, she seems to be dead, and Kurt appears to think so as well, but she suddenly wakes up and kills the police officer.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted. As the night goes on, Kurt becomes increasingly discovered as a killer, especially after killing well known people, indirectly causing the death of a cop in public and going to a carwash with a blood covered car. As a result, Spree is shut down and the police go after him.
  • Rasputinian Death: Kurt dies from being choked out by Jessie, run over and rammed multiple times by a car and having his phone get slammed into his head a couple times.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Subverted. While Jessieís speech technically isnít one, Kurt takes it as this.
  • Rewatch Bonus: After killing Richard, Kendra and London, Kurt complains to Bobby about how he's killed 7 people and nobody noticed. Onscreen by this point, Kurt has killed only 6 people (Frederick, Andrea, Mario, and the aforementioned three). Turns out his first kill was actually his own mother.
  • Sanity Slippage: While itís obvious from the beginning that Kurt isnít... all there, he becomes more unstable as the movie goes on, especially after both Bobbyís murder and seeing Jessie trash him at her set.
  • Self-Made Orphan: As Book Ends to the story, Kurt's mother is his first victim and his father is his last one.
  • Shadow Archetype: Lampshaded by Jessie, who admits (before finding out how bad he truly is) that she relates to Kurt despite finding him embarrassing, unfunny, and awkward. It progressively becomes clearer that she is this for him as he pursues her.
  • Shout-Out: The video of Kurt at the side of the road that we see early in the film seems to be a reference to one of Elliot Rodger's YouTube videos. Kurt's outfit and mannerisms during this video are very reminiscent of Rodger's, and he struggles to speak over the noise of passing cars, while Rodger was interrupted at one point by a car during the video in question.
  • Snuff Film: Much of the film becomes an in-universe example.
  • Social Media Is Bad: Kurt's desire for internet fame eventually drives him to commit multiple murders. In addition, internet culture, vlogging, and "cancel culture" are all lampooned by the movie.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Kurt runs over Mario while "I'm a Gummy Bear" plays in the background.
  • Spell My Name with an S: A minor example. Jessie's name is spelled with an i, but an equally common form of her name is spelled sans the i (Jesse). Kurt misspells her name when Googling her, and some comments in Jessie's streams also misspell her name. Kurt's name is also misspelled by a few of his streamers (one of them calls him "kurd"). His name is also misspelled as "Curt" on a coffee cup he has in one of his vlogs.
  • Spree Killer: Kurt is one, which is why it's in the title.
  • Stylistic Suck: Kurtís videos tend to be awkward and cliche.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Kurt's preferred method of killing people is to spike the water bottles he gives his passengers.
  • Tempting Fate: Non-fatal example. Kurt crashes his car right after he says that he feels untouchable.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Kurt is an unassuming and fairly awkward young man... on the surface.
  • Villain Protagonist: Kurt.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happened to uNo after she came to and killed the cop. Presumably, she was arrested in connection to Kurtís murders.
  • YouTuber Apology Parody: Bobby wouldn't be a parody of obnoxious influencers without at least one of these — we see a clip of a video where he explains the circumstances surrounding a girl getting thrown off of his balcony during a party, and a Freeze-Frame Bonus shows another one of his videos (apparently filmed in his bedroom with him talking directly to the camera) is titled "CONTROVERSY - explained".