Nerve

"Very Good"

Nerve Review


With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone app game that takes its users out into the streets, where they cause additional mayhem. The energetic cast and crew keep the story moving at a brisk pace, generating moments of comedy, emotion, romance and some genuinely breathless suspense along the way.

It's set in New York City, where creative teen Vee (Emma Roberts) lives with her single mother (Juliette Lewis) in Staten Island, frustrated that she can't afford to attend her chosen art college in Los Angeles. Her best pal Sydney (Emily Meade) has just started playing the gaming app Nerve, in which watchers goad players to take increasingly bold dares for cash prizes. Tired of being the quiet good girl, and clearly in need of money, Vee gives in and signs up to the game herself. Watchers then team her up with fellow player Ian (Dave Franco) for an escalating series of dangerous pranks around Manhattan. And as this outrageous night continues, suspicions grow that there's something sinister behind the game.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) give the film a colourfully kinetic visual style, with acrobatic camerawork and a variety of social media imagery, from text graphics to video-streaming sequences. Rather than just noise, these elements pull the audience into the action, adding a first-person point of view that's involving and exciting. Jessica Sharzar's script doesn't dig beneath the surface, and her cautionary observations on gaming culture aren't terribly subtle, but there's a genuine sense of both fun and life-threatening chaos in each set-piece.

Meanwhile, Roberts and Franco create characters who are easy to root for. Roberts' Vee is an independent thinker who has never spread her wings, while Franco makes it clear from the start that Ian is keeping a few secrets. This game is very personal for him, and the question is whether he's a cheerful cohort, a disturbed victim or a creepy villain. The answer is fairly obvious, but Franco has fun shaking things up.

Amid the flashy filmmaking and free-form story structure, it's the emotional connection between Roberts and Franco that grabs hold. At its core, this is a fairly predictable, rather standard thriller that borrows its plot from a range of movies, from The Game to The Hunger Games. The final sequence feels somewhat corny and preachy about the dangers of social media and the hot topic of online bullying. But by then the film's joyful, urgent realism has already pulled us in.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Nerve:



Nerve

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 27th July 2016

Box Office USA: $6000000

Distributed by: Keep Your Head

Production compaines: Lionsgate, Allison Shearmur Productions, Keep Your Head

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 40 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Ariel Schulman

Producer: , Allison Shearmur

Starring: as Ian, as Vee, as Sydney, Kimiko Glenn as Liv, as Nancy, as Azhar, Miles Heizer as Tommy, as Wes, as Ty, Brian 'Sene' Marc as J.P.

Also starring:

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