We live in an internet heavy world right now. It’s impossible not to note this. Despite the sheer volume of folks on t’interwebs, there are a few detractors who feel people are replacing human contact with computers. At least, that’s what the comments on Youtube videos say.
People are angry that (mostly) youths (or affectionately labelled millennials) keep their noses on the illuminating screens, with an online fame obsession and a vapid internet community.
So in a time where adults are whipping out their phones to hunt Pokemon (no judgement here, by the way,) art is bound to comment on the state of the world. So Nerve comes along that showcases the lethal and fatal effects of social media and app usage, but can it sustain the commentary?
Billed as a crime techno-thriller (there’s a lot of neon here,) Nerve revolves around the quiet and unassuming Vee who, since the death of a brother, has let her fears take hold of her. When her friend Sydney introduces her to the terrifying titular online game, Vee is urged to take part. The idea of Nerve is to complete dares for cash deposits that increases as the danger does with people watching and vying for players to risk it all under the guise of entertainment
Of course, you have to keep playing until you forfeit, fail, or win. Unfortunately for Vee, she is about to find out that something more sinister is afoot with the game and when she is pushed towards the rogue Ian, Nerve starts to take a darker turn.
Surely, judging by the raving trailers, you wouldn’t go into Nerve expecting a chilling life-altering affair that questions your over-usage that little flat-box in the palm of your hands. Which is good because that’s not what you are going to get. Instead, you’ll be treated to a tepid and rather bland exploration of a beguiling premise that is merely a foundation for a rather lacklustre and half-hearted relationship. It’s infuriating because all the elements are there: the social commentary, the great uses of internet vs the bad uses of internet, and Juilette Lewis. All of these parts are so wasted, lingering in the wind whilst the pointed faced Dave Franco speeds off on a motorcycle and Emma Roberts wears a green sequinned dress.
The times that the game is called into question are never fully realised, culminating in very few comments and sequences that really shows how dangerous blindly following a dare game controlled by the public en masse is. The psychological backlash that could’ve been wired around Vee’s journey is merely a yelp, lingering on the themes of technological obsessions, mob mentalities (through social media,) and the by-stander theories. Nerve seems like a substandard copy of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series without the slick satire and snappy pacing.
It doesn’t help that Dave Franco and Emma Roberts, our two app-crossed lovers, are distinctly average performers. There is some sweet chemistry between the young actors but their talent cannot stretch across the all-encompassing themes and more serious moments of the film. The increase stress upon Vee puts pressure on Roberts that she cannot quite live up to and in the same vain, Franco struggles as Ian’s story gets complex and he gets more emotional. As the second half is shredded, Franco and Roberts just feel awkward main players.
Nerve isn’t all terrible and there is a lot of fun and “edge of the seat” antics to be had but the thriller that actually had some promise lingers too much on a seedy blossoming relationship more so than the more interesting social commentary. Still director Henry Joost has enough colour and New York scenery to placate Nerve into an average, frivolous, action caper that, whilst never coming into full-fruition, has enough bite to keep you invested for its mere 90 minute runtime.
So will you watch it?
Go on, I dare you.
Nerve is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!