Cert 15 Stars 4
Smart, snappy and bloody, this US satirical comedy thriller is a 21st century morality tale about the perils of chasing attention, popularity and celebrity by posting extreme videos online.
Joe Keery stars as Kurt, a twenty-something emotionally stunted Los Angeles taxi driver who’s frustrated by having spent over 10 years posting videos of himself on Youtube but never having an audience whose numbers reach double figures. His deluded motto ‘if you’re not documenting yourself, you don’t exist’ is horrifying but worse is yet to come.
He creates ‘the lesson’, an instruction video built on the idea of growing an online audience by piggy-backing on other people’s popularity, but it’s really a cover for Kurt’s desire to go viral, and his plan is to livestream a killing spree with his passengers as the victims.
However as they’re initially racist far right activists, estate agents, and Hollywood narcissists with anger management issues, we don’t mind too much, and Kurt’s breezy open-faced personality and conspiratorial delivery encourage us to sympathise with him.
Yet Kurt is soon sliding into increasingly obsessive and outrageous behaviour, as if he were the impoverished grandchild of American Psycho’s violent lunatic Patrick Bateman.
Plus Kurt’s plan takes a detour when he picks up a popular and attractive stand-up comic who has all the talent Kurt lacks, and is played with increasing disbelief by the impressive Sasheer Zamata.
The script is a damning critique on the dubious attitudes of 21st American men and is knowingly pumped full of worthless marketing and brand buzzwords.
It’s happy to take highlight the prevalence of social media-fuelled insecurities, and take gleeful potshots at violent video games, gun ownership, and the financial benefits of murder.
Writer and director Eugene Kotlyarenko delivers a very assured, inventive and energetic and relevant ride, and one that’s remarkably exciting and fresh for a movie mostly set in the confines of a reasonably priced car.