In a world where people dare each other to do stupid things over the Internet, some resulting in injuries or even fatalities, and people love to watch every day life through the camera of their smartphone, Nerve is one of the more relevant films to be released this year.
Vee (Emma Roberts), a high school senior who’s constantly teased by her friends for never taking any risks, comes across the online game Nerve, a game where you either pay to become a ‘watcher’ and send dares to others or join as a ‘player’ and accept the dares sent your way in return for money when completed.
Vee crosses paths with fellow Nerve ‘player’ Ian (Dave Franco), the two of them becoming popular as a pair with ‘watchers’, leading to them carrying out a number of dares together. The further they go in the game though, the more they start to question how far they may actually have to go to win.
What surprised me most about Nerve was how much it unexpectedly kept me on the edge of my seat. I was wincing as Vee and Ian carried out a number of dares, including a death defying motorcycle ride through the streets of New York with Ian wearing a blindfold. It’s all down to the way these sequences were shot and edited, giving the film the energy it needed to keep things interesting.
Without that energy, Nerve would have made for quite boring viewing. Thanks to an appropriately funky soundtrack and some vibrant cinematography from Michael Simmonds, who brings New York City to life with a neon palette that provides a treat for the eyes, Nerve has that feeling of individuality that made it such an inviting watch.
As expected with a film of this nature, some of the things that happen can be seen as utterly ridiculous, leading to the audience not buying into it. I was on board with it until the film lost me a little with its finale, dialling the ridiculousness up to eleven as the final of Nerve plays out.
Coming to the performances, Nerve has two of the brightest young actors in Hollywood in the lead roles. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco have good enough chemistry together to make the film work and the audience care about what happens to them. The supporting cast isn’t great but I can’t say there is anyone that ruins the film.
Nerve works very well as a tense little thriller that loses its way a bit the closer it gets to the finale but I did enjoy it. The most important thing though is that I still haven’t decided whether I’d be a watcher or player. What would you be?