From one half of the directorial team behind ‘Catfish’ (2010) – a film highlighting the dark side of online dating – ‘Nerve’ at least promised to be a thoroughly modern thriller, exploring the idea of a daring online game in which you can choose to be either a “watcher” or a “player”.
This question is a very interesting premise, and indeed, the film does attempt to make a point about this as it prompts the audience to question how we interact with social media and modern technology. What this film does well is its subtle way of exploring these questions, and the opening 30 minutes in particularly are quite effective in doing this. The “players” compete with one another, and are driven by the number of views they’re getting, their egos being relentlessly fed in their attempts to outdo each other with increasingly dangerous stunts.
This all sounds very interesting on paper, and whilst it is promising to begin with, the film very quickly unravels as it struggles with which points it wants to prove, simultaneously wrestling with what type of film it is trying to be. The final act really brings the whole thing down, as it tries too hard to just be a normal thriller, and the conclusion is completely ridiculous, rendering so much of the film completely pointless when it could have all been wrapped up well before it reached the supposedly “dramatic” finale.
Emma Roberts and Dave Franco try their hardest, but with a half-hearted attempt to give them a back-story, there is little to like about either of them and it’s difficult to root for anyone. They lacked believable chemistry, and neither was interesting enough to carry the whole story.
Visually this film is pretty great however. There’s a bright neon colour palette, flashy graphics, and a pulsating soundtrack which do a very good job of masking the weaknesses, and at just 96 minutes long, it is hardly a slog.
Beneath the shiny facade however is a vapid, empty, soulless film. The pithy attempts at drama might appeal to those in the right demographic, but for me, there was little to enjoy in this trashy, throwaway flick.