A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spree is a satirical horror-comedy thriller about a ride-share driver who goes on a killing spree and livestreams everything. It's presented entirely on surveillance cameras, phone cameras, and livestreams. Violence is very strong, with killings and dead bodies, lots of blood and gore, guns and shooting, fighting, strangling, stabbing, car crashes, etc. A car also drives through an encampment of unhoused people. Language is extremely strong, with constant use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "f--got," and "retard." There's also sex talk, references to a sex tape, and creepy flirting. Pot smoking is shown more than once. While it doesn't shy away from being offensive, it generally works because of its smarts and a strong performance by Joe Keery of Stranger Things.
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What's the story?
In SPREE, Kurt Kunkle (Joe Keery) is a would-be social media star, having posted videos for years while rarely achieving more than single-digit numbers in terms of views and likes. Now working as a Spree ride-share driver, he makes a life change. He mounts cameras all around his car and sets to work. He picks up a man who turns out to be a White supremacist. Kurt offers him a complimentary bottle of water, and the man chokes and dies. Kurt reveals that he's on a killing spree, trying to document as many kills as he can. But then he picks up stand-up comic Jessie Adams (Sasheer Zamata), and he realizes that if he can piggyback on her huge social media following, that would double his chances of becoming a star. Thus begins a long, strange, and very bloody night.
Is it any good?
While its themes are nothing new, this demented, envelope-pushing satire somehow balances its sadistic violence with smart humor and Keery's lovable, lunatic puppy dog performance. Like so many movies before it, Spree attempts to skewer obsessions with online fame, continually readjusting where the line is crossed and for whom. Its ultimate conclusion -- that we're obsessed with social media and that it's almost impossible to quit -- isn't new, but the road to get there is certainly fascinatingly teasing. That said, plenty of viewers are also likely to find many of the movie's scenes offensive.
Spree is presented through a combination of surveillance footage and footage shot on phones, as well as livestreams, complete with a never-ending scroll of emojis and comments. Director Eugene Kotlyarenko uses these for maximum creepiness, employing split-screens that offer two different perspectives at once. Zamata is perfectly cast and does great work, but the key to the movie is Keery. As he did as Steve on Stranger Things, he finds a link between extremes. In the midst of Kurt's good-natured, happy-go-lucky attitude and his deep psychopathy, there's a deep loneliness and neediness that Keery beautifully draws on. It's very difficult to create such a brutal character that we can also feel sorry for.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Spree's violence. Is violence glorified here? How did the violent scenes affect you?
How did you feel about elements of the film like the White supremacist character, the prank on the unhoused people, and the use of terms like "f--got" and "retard"? Does the movie seem to condone these things, or is it satirizing their existence?
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