This film, following players of an online dare game, may be a rather obvious commentary on this social media age in which people go to great (and dangerous) lengths to become insta-famous, but it is still fairly enjoyable, even with its complete lack of subtlety.
The first acts of the film feel familiar, not necessarily to other films but to real life. It is here that the film succeeds, in creating a sense of authenticity initially, mostly down to the likeable and relatable leads. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco’s chemistry and on-screen charm carries the audience through most of the film and helps to create an investment in the story. However, despite their chemistry, their fast-forming relationship may not quite ring true, and falls into the trappings of teen romance films, removing a little of the authenticity the film had built up. It is also not helped by some very stilted dialogue that doesn’t quite flow naturally in some conversations.
The film’s dares provide some of its strongest sequences, creating gripping surges in tension. The film fails to sustain this atmosphere enough, however, meaning that at its climax, it doesn’t reach the height it clearly strives for. Similarly, the final act is too rushed, reducing its pay off, and also enters the realm of the ludicrous, taking away from the benefits the realism had provided earlier, and leaving it on a bit of a washed-out note.
The use of phone footage in the film helps to relate the events on the cinema screen to those that we see on our phone screens and helps to heighten the tension. The film’s visuals also help to add to its energy, with neon colours and interesting changes in lighting helping to invigorate each scene.
The film’s obvious message is still effective, without sounding like the scaremongering of a tech-wary older generation. It does make you think (a little, not a lot), and you may feel a little different when unlocking your phone as you leave the cinema, especially if you then log onto an app and are greeted with a daredevil’s death-defying stunt that has garnered thousands of views. Although Nerve takes the issues with social media to the extreme, up until the ending, it is not unbelievable that a game like this could exist.
The film doesn’t delve very deep and trips up in various aspects meaning that its not exactly memorable. However, its premise is interesting and its leads likeable enough that is can still make for an entertaining watch, even if possibly only to the social-media generation.