Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Shulman
Running Time: 96 mins
Nerve is an American film about a hit viral game where people pay to watch and dare others to do all sorts of things, and one girl who becomes caught up in the game that completely changes her life.
Depressingly, this is the sort of internet fad that we could definitely see happen. Taking on what seems like a preposterous concept, Nerve does a great job at grounding this film in as much reality as possible, and introducing some interesting comments on the current state of the world of social media too. What’s more is that it’s a sleekly-directed and well-acted film that’s engaging to watch throughout, although not quite as powerful nor exciting as it clearly hopes to be.
On the whole, though, I was pretty surprised by this film. I expected something a lot less engaging, and definitely didn’t expect such an impressive visual experience. The film is almost constantly covered in neon, getting brighter and brighter as the characters become deeper and deeper involved, but that really has a strong effect in making everything appear a lot more dramatic and tense, in a similar vein to other all-nighter thrillers like After Hours, Stretch and Victoria.
Also, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman do a great job at giving the film a very strong atmosphere. I certainly would have liked a faster pace and a more pulsating soundtrack, but what makes the film work so well is that it picks its tone, a dark take on modern social media accompanied by high-octane thrills, and sticks with it throughout, making for an impressively consistent watch.
The performances are pretty good too. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco are excellent together, with Roberts especially pulling off some genuine emotion at times, and whilst the wide range of supporting players aren’t given much else to do than be party to all the mayhem that kicks off, actors including Miles Heizer and Juliette Lewis were good to watch too.
One thing that makes the film an engaging watch, particularly in its final act, is its message about social media and internet fads. As I said, this is something that could feasibly happen tomorrow by social media’s standards, and the film plays on that pretty well to add some depth to what could have otherwise been a very vapid movie.
The first hour definitely doesn’t do this so well, and I struggled to support even our protagonists early on, as it seemed as if they weren’t really taking into account how idiotic and dangerous the Nerve game is, but as the film progresses, its intelligence and conscience grows, and provides a genuinely interesting look into this phenomenon alongside the main story.
Overall, I enjoyed Nerve a lot. It’s definitely not as thrilling, fascinating or transcendent an experience as it aims to be, but it’s still an exciting and engaging watch throughout, with good performances, directing and writing, and that’s why it gets a 7.4 from me.