Nerve – 1 out of 5
“I dare ya, I double-doggie dare ya!” We’ve all been there and we’ve all watched people following through and succeeding or failing at the dare that has been given to them. In our currently era of social media living, we even see these dares play out for all to see. Think of the real things like the Ice Bucket Challenge or even the completely made up ones that click-bait websites write articles on and have headlines meant to scare your ill-informed aunt and persuade her to hit the share button. Things like “The Latest and Dangerous Fad with Teens” and the article shares a single video of a kid doing something stupid from nearly a decade ago and the author tries to sell it like this activity is a world-wide activity. It’s like that modern day urban myth of the “knock out game” where unreliable sources claims teens everywhere were playing a game that involved attacking random people and not a single police force in the country was able to corroborate the claims. That’s kinda what Nerve is going for with this one—well, the whole watching people act out a dare thing, not the “this article claims something that isn’t happening is totes happening.”
|After this, they went on a fire challenge knock out game killing spree...|
you won't believe what happens next!
Vee (Emma Roberts) is just a shy, smart girl who is not so ready to begin her career in art school. Her best friend; Sydney (Emily Meade), is just the opposite of her and is wild and outgoing. Additionally, she’s huge on an online platform called Nerve—a game that involves people doing dares for money and people paying money to watch the people complete the dares. After Sydney embarrasses Vee and lectures her on how she needs to get out and live, Vee decides to give Nerve a shot. Everything starts out fun at first and she even meets a guy by the name of Ian (Dave Franco) that she can enjoy the dares with. However, she soon learns that the game is far more dangerous and full of secrets. It isn’t long before her life is on the line and she's in danger of becoming a prisoner of Nerve.
|How good can the game be? The idiots who made it spelled it backwards.|
The concept to Nerve isn’t a bad one and something that can easily translate to a thriller that starts out fun and innocent but then can build to something unnerving (pun not intended) and unsettling. However, I found Nerve to just be a bad, very unfulfilling film. While it has elements that work for it, I found myself kinda annoyed by how on-the-nose its commentary was and how I just couldn’t get into the characters I was watching. One thing I really did enjoy about the film, ultimately, was the overall look and lighting. The movie uses a lot of primaries colors to light its scenes and while this would make these structures and places hell on the eyes if you were ever to step foot in them in real life, it really made the film look great. It gave the entire presentation a slight throwback feel as it relied heavily on neon lights and that made a decent antithesis to the tech heavy storyline. Sadly, though, having a film that looks great isn’t enough to save it when the story kinda stunk and the acting was extremely disappointing.
|Come to the Neon Light Diner, you're eyeballs will hate you for it!|
My familiarity with Emma Roberts pretty much begins and ends with American Horror Story. While I didn’t find her to be incapable on that series, I did find her to be a tad on the serviceable side. That isn’t the case with Nerve. I had an incredibly difficult time finding her and most of the supporting cast to be convincing. With the exception of Dave Franco, everyone in the cast feels a bit awkward in their role and there really wasn’t a single person that I felt like they really belonged in the part they were portraying. My biggest issue with Roberts is how thick she is laying on the quirky awkwardness her character is supposed to have. Every moment she is meant to be that adorable, flustered, and socially inept girl came off very stilted and wooden. Even in moments of terror or even when her character inexplicitly falls in love with the character of Ian (after only knowing him for about an hour—because movies can’t have a male and female together without love, I guess), she looked disingenuous and wholly uncommitted. To be a little harsher, she looked like she wasn’t trying and was just phoning in the role. It was really hard to get invested in the main character and care about her when the performance from the actress looked like not a single care was delivered.
|Here's a dare for screenwriters: Write a movie where your two leads can exist|
without having to fall in love.
Overall, however, I wouldn’t say that Roberts and the rest of the cast were horrendous. I didn’t think they were great or really commanding attention but they weren’t nearly as bad as the writing was in this film. (I really, really didn’t like the writing on this one.) The whole film had the subtlety of a Clint Eastwood movie and the whole story felt like a Baby Boomer yelling for the young kids to get off of his lawn. The themes and undertones of how young kids today are obsessed with their phones and how they do dumb things is already hard enough to swallow because the film is just ramming it down your throat with no grace or creativity but it gets only worse as the film reaches its zenith. Once the final act arrives, the film starts to usher in commentary about the anonymous nature of the internet and how people need to get off their phones and live their lives. Other than the fact that every middle-aged complainer on Facebook whines about this on a daily basis (through the use of their phones and internet—the irony is lost on them), this commentary is lazily handled and thrown in about as well as the story’s weak and laughably horrible way it handles the resolution of the game Nerve. The film never feels like it is showing you what it is trying to say but rather just uncreatively tell you what it is conveying. It was really hard to not roll my eyes at how obviously blatant everything was.
|Maybe her acting was just a reflection of the writing lacked subtlety?|
If so, then I take back what I said and found her performance amazing!
I acknowledge that I thought the premise to Nerve had some potential and saw that there definitely was a decent thriller hiding in plain sight in the film but I just didn’t enjoy this movie. The acting was too forgettable and the writing and its presentation were so lazy and lacked so much creativity that the whole feature just looked weak and made the whole experience forgettable. Even if the game Nerve was real and I was dared to watch this again…I would give it considerable thought depending on how much the game was paying me. I mean, come on, I didn’t hate it that much that I would pass over a hundred bucks to sit through it again.