Nerve is a film examining the impact of technology on our lives, and comes from the minds behind the original documentary Catfish – unfortunately, it’s a lacklustre attempt at creating a dark underworld of techy teenagers and what dangers the internet hides.
It follows Vee (Emma Roberts), a shy high school senior who decides to get involved with ‘Nerve’, the latest online craze which is essentially an online version of truth or dare where you receive cash rewards if you succeed. Vee is a shy and socially awkward teenager, who would never do anything out of her comfort zone or to upset her mother, and who has lived in the shadow or her outgoing and popular best friend Sydney her whole life. After being embarrassed by Sydney, Vee decides to sign up as a player of Nerve to prove she has guts to do, well, anything. She is soon sucked into performing questionable and illegal acts with fellow player Ian, (Dave Franco) and the only way to get out safely is to win the game.
Nerve begins quite well – it has an interesting concept which is relevant to the technological age we live in, and is original in that it provides a scenario very much achievable in the real world. However, the acting and the writing is too poor to forgive. Emma Roberts can’t quite pull off the emotions the film needs, and the teen movie supporting cast definitely let it down too. The writing is cliché and predictable, and for a film that is attempting to be cool and edgy, the dialogue is forced and stunted.
Inevitably, as our lives become further indebted to technology, films and television will explore this new area. Black Mirror, the anthology series created by Charlie Brooker, was one of the first to really do this and immediately set the bar out of orbit, and therefore any new attempts to recreate the darker side of technology have such high expectations surrounding them. Nerve is a very Hollywood attempt at the Black Mirror method, and whilst the concept is interesting, the finished product is just another Hollywood teen flick with an all-too predictable ending.
There is some good stuff here; Nerve does provide some genuinely intense moments within the tasks set throughout the game. With a combination of found footage and regular camera styles to portray these tasks, the switching between the two makes it more realistic, in that it looks like something you would watch on your own Facebook wall, and show things which you could only watch through your fingers. Unfortunately, this strength peaks about halfway through the film and continues to falter until the disappointing ending.
Overall, we give Nerve only 2 stars. We weren’t hoping for a masterpiece here, but perhaps a badly marketed forgotten gem. Despite looking fairly slick and providing a few gut-wrenching moments, the film fails to deliver and leaves us robbed of a finished product.