Starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles, Heizer, Juliette Lewis
From the directors of the found footage film Catfish (2010) and Paranormal Activity 4, comes the duo’s first foray into mainstream feature film. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman yet again cater to high school students with a film that couldn’t be debuting at a more convenient time with the world obsessed with Pokémon Go. Nerve (also referred to as The Selfie Movie) spends over 90 minutes exploring a new game where young minds put their lives in danger for social media fame. Likely born from the recent fire, water, breath holding challenges that captivated the news recently, Nerve takes things further. The scripts most basic problem for adult viewers, is the ability to care about characters who are dumb enough to play a game where they risk their lives for viewers or money.
Vee (Roberts) has always been the nice girl at school, shy, quiet and reserved compared to her best friend Sydney (Meade) who will do anything for attention. Sydney introduces Vee to a dangerous new online game called Nerve, where you become a watcher or a player. It’s truth or dare, without the truth and the watchers suggest dares that the players must complete for cash and advancement in the game. Each dare must be filmed from that players own phone. Accused of always playing things safe, Vee signs up as a player to explore her dangerous side. Her first dare is kissing a stranger, Ian (Franco), an experienced player, whom insist she team with. As their dares continue to get more dangerous, the two new friends learn there is no way to escape this system that can remove money and information as easily as they can deposit.
Nerve relies entirely on gimmicks to keep the audience’s attention.
“The second I feel uncomfortable I am out,” one of the many phrases Vee spouts into the wind that holds zero weight. Nerve is meant to be a thrill ride, an adrenaline rush, but all core scenes are shown in the trailer leaving much to be desired. While the first couple of dares (kissing, trying on expensive clothes, getting a tattoo) help paint a picture of who our lead character is. Once the script reaches a level where it has to go big or go home, the dares become unrealistic and venture into death defying stunts that don’t represent the characters we were just introduced to. Nerve relies entirely on gimmicks to keep the audience’s attention. Like the timeliness of The Purge Election Year, Nerve’s most viable element is how it relates to what’s going on in society at this moment (not that ticket buyers will make that connection).
Both Roberts and the younger Franco have struggled to find projects or roles to remove them from their aunt (Julia Roberts) or brother’s (James Franco) shadow. Nerve certainly doesn’t do that. The script is so interested in getting the audience to the thrills it bypasses useful information and character development. So, by the time Vee’s life is in danger we don’t care a whole lot. Nerve will appeal to the tween generation, but what’s worse it’s likely to influence those same dumb kids who set themselves on fire for YouTube or hold their breath until they pass out for likes. That’s dangerous position for this forgettable film to be in.
Nerve will unintentionally capitalize on Pokemon Go craze which puts it in a very dangerous state of suggestion for the teenage crowd.