The age of the social media lifestyle has quickly grown to overtake Hollywood with the slight thriller that is Nerve. The film is rather simplistic with a slight undertone on our society’s love of being loved. The fictional game seems like the pipe dream that some TV or app producer has in order to capitalize on those who live through a screen rather than actually living. Nerve has an interesting premise for the digital age and it executes it…for the most part.
Industrious high school senior Vee Delmonico (Emma Roberts) is tired of living life on the sidelines. Pressured by her friends, Vee decides to join Nerve, a popular online game that challenges players to accept a series of dares. It’s not long before the adrenaline-fueled competition requires her to perform increasingly dangerous stunts. When Nerve begins to take a sinister turn, Vee finds herself in a high-stakes finale that will ultimately determine her entire future.
Nerve is centered entirely on the premise of the game of the same title. Watchers choose different dares for the players to perform for money and each task grows in danger as you rise through the ranks. The world is completely set up as commentary on the way the Internet age has changed interactions. It’s entertaining for the most part, though some questionable decisions could’ve made it better, and it is not supposed to be taken serious in any way. It’s a fun, somewhat topical, view of what the world has partially become or where it could be headed with everyone’s lives being on display constantly.
Emma Roberts works well as the lead for a film like this and her continuing spiral as the film continues works because of where she starts. Roberts begins as the unassuming girl who’s vivacious and eventually gets into her fiery personality as the game continues. The watchers start her game by pairing her with Ian, played by Dave Franco, and the two embark on a series of dares that are enough to keep everyone entertained or thrilled depending on the task. Franco is a worthy pairing for Robert’s compelling character as his charm is enough to cover even the sliest elements of his character.
The film, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, is thin, but there are many worse things to do with an hour and a half. Certain sequences serve as such a metaphor for how peer pressure works not only on a personal level but also on a large scale with an app-based system where people choose what others will do for their entertainment. The sheer amount that people will do for followers or for fake internet “love” is elevated in the film but it’s an all too real fact in life.
Overall, Nerve is nothing spectacular, but it serves the promise that it made; a little thriller with just a touch of subtle undertones. The dares themselves are all pretty sound though you don’t see quite as many as you’d expect. The performances from Roberts and Franco are solid and they have chemistry together along this roller coaster called a game. Some decisions made by the directors are questionable, and if changed could’ve made the film move from decent to good. But in the end, Nerve remains just an okay thriller with an over-the-top view of the effects of digital life.