Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Miles Helzer, Kimiko Glenn, Emily Meade, Machine Gun Kelly, Juliette Lewis
Directed By: Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost
Plot: Vee (Roberts) is a high school senior that doesn’t really take risks. Her best friend, Sydney (Meade) is the opposite of her, and that’s why she takes dares in a new online game called Nerve. Nerve asks people if they are a watcher or a player. Watchers pay $20 for 24 hours of watching, and players get money for completing dares. Each dare is more risky than the next, but also offers a higher reward. Vee decides to become a risk taker, so she becomes a player on Nerve. Her first dare is to kiss a random stranger, which ends up being Ian (Franco), also a player. The game puts the two of them together for their dares, and they race to be at the top of Nerve and make it to the finals. But, as the game progresses, and the game gets more dangerous, Vee realizes she can’t just quit. Nerve owns her.
What Works: Even though this film won’t be relevant in 10 years, I think it is a decent commentary on our current online society, and how so many people will do anything to become famous. Even if only just for a moment. Roberts and Franco both do good work, and have chemistry together, which is important. The film plays out in sort of a teen version of The Purge, and one has to wonder how the stakes would have been raised if this was an R rated film. But for a PG-13 film, Pacing is not an issue here. I didn’t have expectations going into Nerve, and I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t suck. It just had shitty previews.
What Doesn’t Work: Why is Juliette Lewis even in this? Her role is so small, I have to ask why they bothered to pay a well-known actress to do such a small part. It’s not even a showy role. She’s in like three scenes, and two of them are on her phone. Also, the ending is a bit farfetched. It’s one of those “well I’m glad that worked out” moments that seems so impossible to have perfectly lined up.
Final Word: Not a bad film. The directors of Catfish actually prove useful in a narrative form, and the cast does a good job. The previews didn’t do it justice. I’d say its worth your time at Redbox, for sure.
Final Grade: B+