Today: February 28, 2024

Nerve

Recent studies have shown that millennials are having less sex than any generation in 60 years. The speculated reasons for this are countless, too much porn, too much online dating, worry over consent, too much career worries, fear of commitment and numerous others. Nerve is a film about millennials. It wants to put them under the microscope and postulate how far this generation are willing to go for, you guessed it, fame. Because it seems while they worry about everything the one thing they crave is their fifteen minutes. Blame the Kardashians, blame Trump, but whatever you do don’t blame the movies.

Vee (Emma Roberts) is the school photographer who is struggling to tell her mum (Juliette Lewis) that she doesn’t want to go to the local college. Her best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) on the other hand is an extrovert who is playing an online game called Nerve. The game is simple, you’re either a ‘Watcher’, which means you pay to witness the game unfold, or you’re a ‘Player’ which means you get dared to do things and if you complete the dare you win money. Fail the dare, you lose everything.

When Vee is peer pressured into the game she finds herself partnered with human cheshire cat Ian (Dave Franco). As the two head into New York they first bond and then realise the game is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Neon lit to within an inch of a disco ball, Nerve offers up an interesting premise. It balances a fine line between David Fincher’s The Game, Battle Royale, a smidge of Hackers, and little seen thriller Cheap Thrills. Like the latter film the dares take the main focus of the film with Vee and Ian’s relationship slowly blossoming around the chaos.

As their fame grows so Vee should become more and more seduced by the power of her new found celebrity status. But the film skirts around this more interesting dynamic. It’s Sydney’s sole motivating factor in participating in Nerve at one point commenting that Vee is “Instafamous”. The point being that she’s so famous she could start charging for each post she puts of her mundane life, such is the backward world we live in.

And therein in lies Nerve’s biggest issue. It touches upon zeitgeist issues that if explored deeper would have made for a fascinating story. It’s not that it’s bad, indeed some of the online visual flourishes while over-the-top MTV in their execution are entertaining, it just feels like an opportunity missed.  

A film about millennials for millennials rather than anything more daring, Nerve is a serviceable thriller that never has the courage to be anything more.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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