REVIEW – NERVE

I had seen various trailers for the film Nerve and to be honest I remember feeling at first excited by the specific theme of the film and then a little bit terrified by how the film could eventually end. Time passed and the screening came around. I walked into the cinema remembering my initial feelings upon viewing the trailer. So I was a little nervous to see how things would end.

We’re introduced to Vee (Emma Roberts) who plays a senior whose life (much like every other teenager her age) revolves around technology. We are placed in her perspective, her point of view as she navigates her computer checking her email, toying over accepting a college request, checking her Facebook, as she’s been tagged in a photo. She also checks a website (where we see a picture and headline referencing James Franco, producing a chuckle from some in the audience). In this short scene she’s using her device to access all sorts of information. Through a Skype call we meet her friend Sydney (Emily Meade),  introducing her to the game Nerve, where users are given two choices: player or watcher.

Sydney, a player, wants Vee to follow her adventures. We learn that each player is given a dare to complete, having to do so within a certain amount of time. With each task completed the player wins money. If you fail or bail you lose all the money you’ve accumulated thus far. So there’s that risk, along with the tasks itself. Certain events occur in which Vee is prompted to take that leap. Rather than taking the position of watcher (which everyone thinks she’d take) she becomes a player. What I found to be quite intimidating is the part where she clicks player. We, the viewer have taken on the role of device and we watch as the application seizes all her information from her computer. Bank details, photos, statements, all social media information. Practically her whole online life, which let’s face it, these days, is everything.

It was interesting to watch throughout the film, the way in which the game took her information and most times challenged her to break out of her shell. To do things she wouldn’t normally do, at first somewhat innocent things. She crosses paths with Ian (Dave Franco), who we soon learn is also playing the game. There’s an air of mystery behind his character and I didn’t know whether he could be trusted or not. I have to say, I really enjoyed his performance in this film. Maybe it was the motorbike attached to his hip. With said motorcycle, there was quite a scary scene. At first I was quietly saying, no, no, no and then as the scene progressed I was thinking, faster, you can do it! The directors, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, really created a sense of emotion in each scene. It was something you truly felt. Some of the scenes were so intense, I’m not even joking when I say my palms were perspiring. My colleague turned to me at one point saying, “my stomach hurts.” To which I reply, “why?” He replies, “I’m so nervous for them.” I have to agree. I remember holding my breath at certain points, on the edge of my seat. It felt a bit like a heightened version of American Ninja Warrior, with a dash of Hunger Games, with an element of Jumanji. Quite a thrilling mix.

A favourite scene for the both of us was the shopping trip scene, both characters leaving the store. The way that scene was filmed, the camera angles and use of different styles of camera techniques. Similar techniques were used in the earlier jail scenes of Suicide Squad. In both instances quite effective. Also, for some reason I was getting a Spring Breakers vibe. Maybe it was the overall colouring, or the way we travelled through the film, but something reminded me of it. Her friend Tommy (Miles Heizer) was a great addition to the film. He, a computer hacker wanted to delve further into the background of both the game and Ian. This comes after he relays information, a rumour that a boy in Seattle died playing the game the year before. He discovers some key information about Ian’s character and his history with the game. What you need to know is that the ultimate goal is to make it to the finals. Something Franco aims to do. There’s another character Ty aka Mad Max (another chuckle from audience members here) portrayed by rapper Machine Gun Kelly, who is playing the game with the very same intention as Ian. I loved a very cool cameo from Casey Neistat, again, working with the online theme. The twists that occur in the last part of the film were quite brilliant. Some things I did see coming, but other more major events I didn’t see coming.

The cons when it comes to this film are small. Such as the lack of background story concerning her brother, was lost in translation. I had questions regarding the outcome of that plotline. Her mother served the purpose of being a character that interweaves within the story, both in the initial stages of setting up why Vee is the way she is and why she makes certain decisions. Then in the way she’s impacted by the game. Also a major thing that irked me was the fact we didn’t discover who was behind the creation of the game. Maybe I missed it, or maybe that’s the point, that the creator isn’t the perpetrator. It’s the people who interact with the game.

I really enjoyed this film. It has the ability to bring out specific emotions from you throughout the viewing. The beginning was a little slow, but thinking back on it now, I’m glad it was a different pace to the rest of the film because the majority of the movie was full on. I’d definitely recommend this film, it’s a comment on society focusing on peer pressure and fads. Overall a movie that you can appreciate, not just for the way it’s put together, but the messages it presents.

Rating: 4/5

☆☆☆☆

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