I can’t tell you the last time I thought about Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, the antagonists of MTV’s The Hills and easily reality television’s most hated couple. But thanks to one art student, they’ve been embedded my brain for days.
Filmmaker Will Rebein, a 22-year-old student at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, has spliced together over two hours of archived footage chronicling the rise and fall of Spencer and Heidi, aka Speidi, as the film is aptly named.
More specifically, the documentary focuses on the physical and emotional transformation of Montag, who has been seen as both a victim of Pratt’s manipulation and the Hollywood machine.
“I felt like this was an opportunity to tell her story,” Rebein told Vice. “I truly realized how much Heidi had changed and had a realization that people only paid attention to her physical change and not the emotional changes or abuse she went through.”
When The Hills aired on MTV in 2006, Montag was quickly cast as the BFF to Lauren Conrad, who had moved to Los Angeles after a stint as the high school sweetheart in Laguna Beach.
But the tides quickly began to change when Montag became romantically involved with Pratt, a bad boy rich kid who ran ranks with Brody Jenner, the son of Caitlyn Jenner. Things got rocky between the two gal pals and the relationship took a drastic turn when Pratt began shopping a sex tape rumor about Conrad to the media.
At that moment, The Hills had become the most popular show on MTV. Viewers not only tuned into the show, but also were able to see the casts’ lives play out in the tabloids and it was then that Speidi began milking every bit of the 15 minutes of fame they were promised.
Montag had been a very likable character for the first two seasons.
Even after she became entwined in Pratt’s antics, viewers continued to root for her, thinking she was just blindsided by love. There was still a chance that she could step away and reconcile her relationship with Conrad.
She was also a media sensation, no matter how much she failed.
As the couple became more isolated from their peers, Pratt became Montag’s manager, attempting to kick-start a music career that would drag on for years. In 2007, she released her debut single “Higher” which received bland reviews and incited even worse commentary on the low-budget music video.
“Because of Higher’s extremely cheap quality, Heidi’s music career was doomed,” Rebein states in the film. “She instantly became a joke and ruined any potential chance of having a music career,” even though she continued to release singles and a full-length album, Superficial, in 2010.
She developed clothing lines and promoted products and venues, all while making appearances on How I Met Your Mother, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Wife Swap, and Celebrity Big Brother. They were doing anything and everything to keep their celebrity status alive, including staging events like their marriage proposal, fights and divorce, though they did get married in 2009 and never separated.
By this point, no one, including cast mates, had anything positive to say about the couple.
But throughout it all—and what the film mainly focuses on—is the emotional toll that the limelight took on Montag while The Hills was still trying to portray the characters as everyday girls living and working off of the red carpet.
Her relationship to Pratt, who ruined the majority of her friendships, isolated her while her appearance began to change. What started as a one-off breast enhancement and nose surgery as “revenge on all those people who talked bad about her when she was young,” according to clips in the film, became a rapid addiction.
Rebein alleges that comments made by the media and left online by users further propelled her desire to change her appearance. In 2010, she revealed to People that she had recently undergone ten cosmetic procedures in one day, which included brow lifts, ear pinning, liposuction, and chin reduction.
Montag admitted she almost died from too much Demerol during the process.
The archived footage is layered with orchestrated music that further enhances the depressing nature of Speidi’s lives. Their faces light up in a sea of flashbulbs and the media eats it up. Simultaneously, Montag was labeled an addict of fame and surgery.
Clips show painful and emotional family reunions with Montag’s family.
“When you left home you had more confidence and more self esteem than any person I’d ever met in my life,” her mom told her, crying. “I was so envious of the confidence you had,” her sister re-enforced. The re-union, and her family’s disapproval of her lifestyle cause Montag to cut off all tie with her family.
Still, the public remained fascinated by their presence for years as the duo became the focus of many television segments and two one-off documentaries, “Speidi: Scandals, Secrets and Surgery” and “After Shock: Heidi & Spencer.”
Then, they got fed up.
During a heated interview in 2009 between Speidi and the four panelists on The Insider, the two were called “evil” and “malicious.”
“I hope that you recognize that nobody watches a train pass through a town safely. They’re watching you because they like to watch a train wreck, which is what you guys are,” one of the anchors said to Speidi. “Your fifteen minutes of fame is going to be up sooner than you know.”
But it seems they might just have a few minutes left.
Pratt and Montag have since gotten wind of the film. Pratt posted Snapchat videos of himself and Montag watching Speidi and ended with his own critique of how the media has portrayed him.
“Lots of very interesting stuff in the documentary, lots of stuff that’s definitely out of context,” he said, shirtless in bed. “I’d love to hit him with the backstory.”
“I only wish wish @wrebein had asked us questions during the production,” Pratt tweeted last week, before offering Rebein a chance to visit and hear their side of the story.
Oh no. The ‘Speidi’ mummy has been reawakened.