Written by The Vern
We live in an age where everyone can record anything and with a good wifi connection, be seen by everyone. There is this strange urge to post everything we do in hopes it will get more “like”s and more followers because that has become our currency today. It no longer matters how much money you make or what your career is. It’s how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers you have. Why do we feel that it’s important to post everything that we do? I think it’s mainly because we are scared of being forgotten. We only have a short time left on this Earth, and while we are here, we want to make sure that we are remembered. This may not be important to a lot of you who are reading this, but it’s probably more important to that of a young girl going into adulthood. At least for a certain female character in this movie it is.
Vee (Emma Roberts) is your average female movie character, the kind who is very timid and shy, but if you gave her the chance, she could be just as wild and carefree as the rest. Her two best friends are the wild, bad-girl cliche Sydney (Emily Meade) and the “stuck in the friend zone” Tommy (Miles Heizer). Sydney is at the top of a new Internet craze called “Nerve,” where players can compete in different dares and win cash while others pay to watch.
Feeling tired of being the timid one of the group, Vee joins as a player and brings Tommy along for her first dare. She has to kiss some random stranger at a restaurant, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s the resident bad boy with a heart of gold Ian (Dave Franco). Well, maybe he isn’t your typical bad-boy cliche, but he does own a motorcycle, and that must mean trouble, right? The two begin competing in numerous dares, which include getting a tattoo, running around a high-end fashion store in their underwear, and driving a motorbike blindfolded. These feats have given Vee a good list of followers and a new boost of confidence. However, Sydney is becoming quite jealous of her friend’s new fame and it’s here, among many other places, where the story fails.
Having Sydney become envious of Vee’s new fame would be the perfect opportunity to make her the villain. Her drive to be number one in this game would be a really great issue to explore because sometimes we can put our own drives and ambitions before any others. There is another player who is also racking up points doing more extreme dares that she could have teamed up with to help bring down Vee and Ian. Instead, she just teams up with Tommy and asks for his help in putting a stop to her exploits. He does some digging and finds something about Ian’s past that is connected to Vee’s brother. However when they all meet up at a party after someone dares them to go, Tommy waits until after Sydney and Vee both do a dangerous stunt before he tells her anything. Then, things gets even more ridiculous.
Vee decides she’s had enough of the game and goes to expose it to the authorities. Instead of visiting a government official or a judge, she just talks to the very first cop she sees. This ends up branding her as a snitch and the producers of Nerve have control of her family and her assets. Tommy visits his hacker friends, including Kwen (Samira Wiley from Orange is the New Black), to help shut down the game for good. If this organization is so powerful that it has this many visitors on the site, you would think it would have a better firewall to protect it from the same hackers who are a better fit in that movie from the ’90s than they are here. If this was set during the boom of the internet getting started, it could have been a lot more plausible and a fun relic of its time. During the ’90s, there were a lot of movies about the internet, both the good and the bad. Nerve would have fit perfectly in with those features.
Nerve was directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, best known for the documentary and TV series Catfish. Their concept of this global game about voyeurs and people seeking fame is fascinating, and the cast does a good enough job in their roles to make this not painful to sit through. It’s just that their characters are recycled ones from other movies you have seen before. It’s like they took the obvious cliches from the parody flick Not Another Teen Movie and put them in to this one. The cinematography from Michael Simmonds with its use of neon colors throughout was nice, and while a lot of things were bad about this, at least I can say that it looked pretty.
On the menu screen of the Blu-ray in big bold letters, it has you choose if you are a watcher or a player. The “watcher” option gives you a lot of features about the making of Nerve, including one where a bunch of kids play pranks at people at a park that looked very staged. The “player” choice has an interactive version of the game you can play with your friends and a trivia game that will decide if you are a watcher or a player. And in small letters towards the bottom of the screen, is the option to play the movie.