In a serious effort to catch up with 2016 movies, although not exactly Oscar nominees, Nerve came onto my radar with its discounted rental price at the Google Play store. I’m a fan of Emma Roberts. In fact, I haven’t seen many movies of hers that I disliked so I’m pretty confident that I’ll like it plus the plot looks something right up my alley.
Let’s check it out!
Director: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Machine Gun Kelly, Miles Heizer, Juliette Lewis, Kimiko Glenn,
A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”-IMDB
The world of games and reality are not unfamiliar territory and the world Nerve actually feels quite authentic in the most high stakes way. Nerve is a game of truth and dare set by an anonymous group of watchers which set around a set of rules to get to the finals with each dare being more and more risky. Nerve isn’t only a game but a server that hides its watchers behind the screen. Perhaps the side message to get from this game extends to one about cyberbullying and how easy it is to be anonymous behind a computer screen and cause irreparable harm and not have regards for the consequences while also manipulating its players for money, sometimes a lot of money. But then, you can’t clap with one hand. The players’ greed or inner satisfaction or adrenaline rush also pushes them to follow through. The game itself is set up in a believable way, depending on what crazy things you would believe others to do. Nerve is everywhere on the community and perhaps that makes it even more compelling as the directors shoot this film in a mesmerizing way, blending in colors to aid the tone, keeping it fun and dangerous and mysterious, and also using the camera angles that remind us that we are also a watcher as we follow primarily Vee and Ian on their Nerve team-up to the top.
One of the best parts of Nerve starts when we meet Vee and learn about her fears and how she really doesn’t stand up for herself or do anything for herself. All this leads to her jumping into Nerve and choosing to be a player. The first task leads her to kiss a stranger or we soon learn isn’t really one because said stranger, played by Dave Franco is Ian who had instructions to be there. See the manipulation already? However, they are asked to team-up on each of their dares amd as the movie progresses, they have a much deeper connection. Except what also starts out fun turns out to be even more chaotic. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco were great in Nerve. They embraced their role perfectly whether in the silly fun parts to the more dangerous bits, there is a great connection between them that makes it authentic and work.
There are some little parts in this one that I’m not sure works well. For one, there isn’t a fleshed out enough devotion to the side characters. The supporting cast themselves consists of a few roles. One which is done well although used in a very convenient way is Vee’s hobby hacker friend (who also seems to have a crush on her), Tommy (Miles Heizer). Tommy is a key character because without reliable and loyal friends, its hard to have progressed. Plus, he has a skill set and connections that helps. Other than him, there is Sydney (Emily Meade) who is the one who introduces Nerve to Vee and also a good friend who always wants attention and is also a player who likes to push the limits. However, what falls apart a little is the predictable conflict between Sydney and Vee. I can see how it contributes to the story especially as we step into the third act but secretly, a part of me wanted the story to be focusing on Vee and Ian and the whole Nerve issue because it didn’t feel like there was a bigger purpose. This is really the only issue I had with the movie. On the side, there was also two supporting characters which are familiar faces from Orange is the New Black who are incredibly likeable as well. They are one of the other friends, Liv (Kimiko Glen) in Vee’s group which follows Sydney around mostly as a watcher and outside from the scene is Tommy’s friend, Hacker Kween (Samira Wiley). Finally, wildly underused is one of the somewhat “villainous” characters that show up everywhere is TJ (Machine Gun Kelly). If there was something else that should be more fleshed out would be his character who mysteriously pops up here and there but somehow has more significance in the end but never enough to make us really care.
Nerve is a really good movie. I have my opinions on the direction it chooses to take at certain moments but it is no doubt a fun and adrenaline-filled ride from the moment we start seeing Emma Roberts’ character press the Player button on Nerve and break out of her introvert and controlled world. Some characters could be more fleshed out to follow the direction of where they wanted it to end. But at the same time, if this was a story less about the petty conflicts but more about Ian, Vee and Nerve would be better and more polished. However, there’s still a lot to enjoy in this movie.