Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco
With an exuberance of technological style – which doesn’t consistently work – Nerve is not necessarily a bad film on merit, but disappointing upon reflection. With a bold statement to the dangers of youth culture and the unlimited capabilities of the internet, Nerve attempts to deliver a harrowing message to the audience. However, with a sloppy narrative structure, some undeveloped supporting characters and a very poor final third, Nerve becomes a victim to its own choices.
Vee (Emma Roberts) is an unassuming teenage girl, craving the high school jock and stuck in the shadow of her more adventurous best friend. Challenged to break the shackles of her life choices by her friends, Vee decides to enter as a player within the titular Nerve game. Dared to do a continuously rising difficulty of tests for money, under the watchful gaze of those viewing them online, Vee begins to amount a level of fame within the popularised world of the online platform. Within these dares she encounters the mysterious Ian (Dave Franco) a confident player who is forced to team up with the naive teenager. With each challenge become more life threatening that the last, the pair realise that those who have constructed the idea are not entirely how they seem.
Although simple and somewhat entertaining, Nerve becomes lost within its own narrative with multiple holes present within how the plot progresses. These holes resonate throughout the entire film, but are prevalent in the final third – with the film making little to no sense in what it shows. Jumping between characters, different dares and various aspects of the city, the plot is never allowed to build tension or develop in the usual manner, instead feeling pushed together, disjointed and convoluted throughout. Alongside the multiple holes that are present, the conclusion of the film is disappointing in its own right – with the narrative closing too quickly and with a desperate desire to present a happy ending, without the necessary context to warrant its inclusion. All together, the plot of this film attempts to be something it isn’t , resulting in a non memorable film that is mostly unbelievable and rushed.
The film’s two leads do not hold much chemistry on screen, and instead seemed to be cast in their roles as a desire of the budget and not necessarily the development of the narrative. However, they do seem to be enjoying themselves in their performances, with Emma Roberts seen to be having lots of fun within her portrayal. Franco similarly brings a level of energy to his character’s development, allowing his progression to become fun and exciting. Instead where the cast of this film really struggles is in the supporting roles that littered throughout the film. Each being a simple teenage film stereotype (jealous best friend, unattractive love interest etc) these supporting roles are only ever dull, spoiling what could have given credibility to the threat implied by the challenges of the two leads.
Although not unwatchable, Nerve attempts to do too much stuff that it becomes over convoluted within its own aesthetic. Why two directors were needed for a film of this quality is confusing, with Nerve instead feeling rushed and sloppy throughout. Although the gadgety design of the film is fresh at the beginning, an over reliance of it quickly diminishes its inclusion. Although some demographics will dig the bold message at its core, the inconsistency in how it is put together means that Nerve becomes only a confusing and forgettable mess.
Plot – 3
Acting – 3
Direction – 2
Retrospect – 1
Overall – 2