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Party review: in search of an audience

Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our festival movie reviews, virtual reality previews and other special event launches. This critique comes from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

When a real-life murderer finds fame in a forum or a social network, a trend that has become depressingly frequent in recent years, there are two common conclusions. The first is that social networks are a kind of new and unprecedented evil, as if the killer of the zodiac never developed a brand strategy developed through local newspapers, or television news will never help convert mass shooters in celebrities. The second is that modern web platforms simply produce their own different types of nightmares, which distort their healthy promises of openness and trust.

Spree, A horror comedy directed by Eugene Kotlyarenko captures the latter with a remarkable style. He uses an experimental combination of filming and naturalistic filming of telephone applications, following a man who wants him to feel desperate and pathetic, even if that implies a mass murder campaign with a viral hashtag.

What is the gender?

Spree the plot is basically a Black mirror episode, and its aesthetic combines footage techniques found with the "screen film" style of movies like searching Y Hostile. Most of the action is done on a dietary basis through GoPro and telephone cameras, including a lot of Periscope-style vertical videos overlaid with audience reactions.

Tonally, it is a sometimes uncomfortable mixture of stira and slasher film, carried out by an exaggerated performance of Strange things Joe Keery star. The plot is not based on real events, but is quite realistically linked to the world of technology and social networks, ficting some controversy and referring to a real mass murder by an Uber driver in 2016.

What is it about?

A failed pseudo-Uber driver and Internet content creator (Keery) decides to "go viral" by embarking on a wave of live broadcast murders called #TheLesson. This is unbearably and intentionally cringeworthy.

Kurt (presented as "KurtsWorld96") is a social media strategy guide made meat. He is a creator of self-described content that produces hours of bad electronic music and introspective videos that nobody sees. His idea of ??starting a conversation is "how did you grow up your follow-up?", And his face is permanently in a manaca smile. As the driver of the Spree transportation app, he obsessively asks passengers to tag him on Instagram and swears that always keep going back.

#TheLesson, an elaborate scheme to kill Spree users, is Kurt's final attempt to increase his audience. But a depressingly mediocre streamer that kills people … is still a depressingly mediocre streamer. So, to his horror, nobody cares or even thinks the deaths are real. As Kurt strives more and more to impress viewers, he becomes obsessed with a successful social media star named Jessie Adams (Sasheer Zamata), who has begun to have his own doubts about being famous online.

What is that Really about?

Spree It is a wild dissection of digital social climbing. Kurt is at the bottom of the stairs, obviously. But as the film expands its approach to Jessie, we see that the same dynamic develops at other levels of Internet stardom. The characters relate to each other by carefully identifying their relative status, then try to film or be filmed by the biggest star in the room, transmitted through some effective editing tricks, such as scenes that are reproduced through phone images of several people at once.

This behavior closely resembles an outdated power game. But Spree emphasizes the specific pressure of the instant feedback cycle and the hyper quantification of social networks. Fantastic comments appear at the bottom of the screen, sometimes mocking the characters and sometimes inciting them. Instead of subjectively judging someone's influence, people rely on ruthless metrics of views and counts of followers.

Spree It also presents a surprisingly amoral view of the Internet economy. Kurt's policy is monetization strategies: calling a white supremacist in his live murder broadcast because platforms do not like racism and despise the homeless because they are not online enough. His hashtag, #TheLesson, evokes an aggrieved extreme right troll or a social justice crusade too enthusiastic. But in reality it is a literal guide to becoming famous, which includes an instructional video for a deadly art project.

Jessie, meanwhile, is a black woman whose comedy she calls racism and misogyny. But in Spree, is caught playing the same game as Kurt: any genuine idealism is quickly captured, repackaged and published online. Internet culture wars in the real world still exist here, but they are only opposite corners of a large content farm.

It's okay?

Keery achieves the trick of being creepy, sad and fun to watch even as he descends more and more into the monstrosity. And the film leans toward dark comedy instead of absolute horror, which prevents it from looking like a technopic alarm or a moral "kid in these days" moral. If you are the kind of person who can laugh at the scumbags of clown killings, many Spree It works very well

On the other hand, those vignettes eventually begin to feel repetitive. Spree It stands out in the middle with some scenes that are fun by themselves, but they don't add enough to the central joke of the movie that social media fans are superficial and think that everything is a joke. Kurt's victims are usually as unpleasantly obsessed as he is, so, with the exception of Jessie, it is difficult to invest in his destiny. And when Spree is fully committed to the idea that the murders of Kurt are a microcosm of … * the movie gestures wildly on social networks *, You do not have enough time to present your case.

How can I really see it?

Spree He is currently looking for distribution.