Published on July 27th, 2016 | by Ryan Guerra0
I walked into Nerve expecting it to be a teenage version of the morose 2014 horror/thriller 13 Sins. While similar in premise, 13 Sins is dark and sinister, while Nerve is something different all together. Based on the 2012 young adult novel by the same name, Nerve is a story about an unassuming high school senior who decides to challenge her own comfort zone by playing an online reality game of where “watchers” (Like Facebook Followers) offer up various “Dare’s” for players to complete which nets them money. The more “watchers” players gain, the bigger the possible rewards, but at what cost?
Nerve feels like its two movies in one. For the first two acts, Nerve is a young adult/teen film where we follow Vee (Emma Roberts) as she breaks free from her unassertive personality that has her in the background among her friends and afraid to tell her family where she wants to go to college. She is a good kid, but too timid to go after anything she really wants. Instead through the challenges of the game Nerve, she gains confidence in herself as she becomes involved with another Nerve player Ian (Dave Franco). Together, along with a fast paced uplifting soundtrack, we are taken on a fun and entertaining ride where you cannot help but care about these two and wonder what you would do in their situation.
Roberts and Franco are likable in their roles and they lead a stellar young cast who are all realistic in their youthful portrayal. Not too surprising because they are actually young actors, but it is important to note that the cast feels “real,” which helps sell the believability that a game like “Nerve” could actually exist in our world. Especially in a world where we are glued to our phones, tablets and computers in order to be the “star of our own lives” through the instant gratification of social media. Along with the recent emergence of the popularity of augmented reality games like Pokémon Go, it is conceivable that a game like Nerve could exist in our near future.
But this is where the film starts to fall apart. In the third act, the film hastily transitions into a social commentary of the anonymity of the internet, mob think and what we are willing to share online. While I understand this is a message that seem appropriate a story like this, that message would have been better served in a sinister film like the aforementioned, 13 Sins, and not in a movie which up to that point, felt that it was headed towards being an inspiring and uplifting film. It doesn’t help that the resolution of that social commentary was comical in its execution that completely pulls you out of the film. It was an unnecessary turn that wanted us to focus on the game Nerve rather than the characters the story made us care about. It’s a shame really because up until that point, the film Nerve was fun, enjoyable and inspiring, only to fall apart for no real reason other than to make a weak attempt at being something more than a teen movie.
I am sure the young adult/teenage audience this film is marketed towards will enjoy Nerve, but this film is really more of a rental or at most, a matinee.
3 out of 5 stars