In an attempt to add some spice to her life, high school senior Vee (Emma Roberts) joins an online game called Nerve. As the challenges get more difficult and the danger increases, the game takes a sinister turn that could effect her entire future.
Nerve is based off of a 2012 novel by Jeanne Ryan. The movie is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, and it’s written by Jessica Sharzer. Overall, Nerve is a thriller, definitely technological. I’m not usually one to describe things as “millennial”, but I definitely got that vibe from this movie.
The whole idea behind the Nerve game is that it’s an online version of Truth or Dare, just with all dares. When accessing the site, people can choose to either be a watcher or a player. If you choose watcher, you pay monthly to watch video footage of the players, and you can influence the player’s actions. If you choose player, you complete dares for money.
It sounds simple enough, but the game has the potential to be extremely dangerous. The dares given to players can range from kissing a stranger to shoplifting to things far more death defying. It’s horrifying the lengths that people will go to for money and views.
This is where that “millennial” aspect comes in. The whole idea of Nerve is much more believable if you use a lot of social media. Older audiences might not relate as much or may see it as something that may happen in the distant future, but the whole idea of Nerve is something that could be happening right now. I thought it was horrifying just how believable it was.
From that technological aspect, there were some nice aesthetics as well as some not-so-nice aesthetics used throughout. I enjoyed seeing the usernames dotted throughout the city to indicate just how many people were involved in the game. Some aspects of Nerve’s interface were pretty cool to look at as well.
What threw me off was some of the instances where the camera appears to be inside of the computer/phone screen. There was one point where the main character selects an option with her finger… on her Macbook computer screen. This completely threw me at the time because you can’t do that on a Mac. They could have gotten away with it if they hadn’t insisted on showing the Apple symbol, but they did. This aspect was used throughout the movie in many different instances, and I had absolutely no problem with any of those other times. It was actually pretty neat when done well.
In terms of acting, I briefly mentioned above that the main character is played by Emma Roberts. The supporting role of “Ian” is played by Dave Franco. I thought both of these actors did a really decent job of portraying just how quickly Nerve could go from harmless fun to devastatingly dangerous. Other roles in this movie are portrayed by Juliette Lewis, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Kimiko Glenn, and Samira Wiley. It was a pretty great cast by all accounts.
For story, there were some aspects that got a bit too melodramatic for me. This was seen mostly in the relationship between Vee and her friend Sydney. There was just so much petty jealousy involved at a certain point. I haven’t read the book, so I’m unsure whether or not this was in the source material. You could attribute their actions to the fact that they were high school girls, but it was incredibly painful to watch. I was definitely happy when the story moved on from that point.
Despite having some flaws, as most movies do, Nerve is a pretty good thriller. It’s fun to watch. The aspects of it that pertain to social media use are pretty accurate. The ending took a moral high ground that I could have dealt without, but overall, I’d recommend it for at least one watch. It’s definitely worth that.