Are you a Watcher or Player? This is the question at the heart of Nerve, a techno-thriller film from the directors of Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3 & 4, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost. It is based on a 2012 novel by Jeanne Ryan.
Nerve is the story of Venus “Vee” Delmonico (Emma Roberts). Vee is a high school senior with a reputation for playing it safe and not taking risks. She is told about a game called Nerve that recruits people to be either watchers or players. If you choose to be a player, you are constantly issued dares to complete. As you complete the dares you win money and gain more notoriety. Vee decides to take part in the game to prove to her friends that she is more than capable of taking chances. Once she does she meets another player named Ian (Dave Franco). From this point on, Vee is going to realize just how deep this game really goes.
The trailer for Nerve hooked me with its idea. This game where everyone and anyone could be watching. Add to that the suspense elements with the various dares, and you have my attention. This was a quaint summer surprise. Especially with to being released when other blockbuster films like Star Trek Beyond and Jason Bourne are hitting the screen.
Nerve is a very contemporary film that showcases the modern Internet culture. It’s by no means deep and full of metaphor, yet you can tell throughout the film and equate it to situations we all may have online. It can be a case of “I think I know this person, but then it turns out that was a façade. The film best shows this point in the 3rd act, although it came across a tad bit heavy handed to me.
The film also is well formed on the structure side of things. It’s 96 minutes in length so it doesn’t waste too much time. We are introduced to Vee, see what she is like, and she gets into the game. That works for me. The cinematography is vibrant and colorful. I felt that showed viewers how bright things may look, but once you get on the other side, it’s not pretty at all.
The acting is passable. Neither Roberts nor Franco light the room on fire with their performances, yet they don’t bring it down. Nothing in the script is really anything one would cringe over.
Overall Nerve is decent enough to be worth a viewing. It easily could have been a cheap, young adult thriller that had no purpose, but in the end it actually hase something to say about a prevalent part of our modern culture.