Since the dawn of the internet and smart phones, films have tried to relate to the generation that’s so engulfed in the technology. From the guy in his 30s trading on Wall Street to the teenage girl who can’t seem to separate herself from Snapchat or Instagram. Many have tried, and few have succeeded. Most are done in a way that comes off as a little too pushy or polemic. Others use it as a devise to make the film look more attractive to a younger demographic. Either way, it’s always seemed as though it was the technology that was propelling the stories–almost forcing them upon us.
Right off the bat, the concept of Nerve may have you thinking the same thing, but its premise is much more relaxed. And where it isn’t, it’s more subtle than its contemporaries. Nerve is, all around, more mature with its subject matter.
It stars Emma Roberts as Vee, an artistic high school senior who’s best friend, Sydney (Emily Meade), thinks she doesn’t live uninhibitedly enough. Then there’s this secret game/app which the user can choose to be either a watcher or a player. As a player, you have to complete tasks, or “dares”, for money. The two who last the longest without giving up go to the finals.
The rules of the game take much of the film to get a grasp on, but it makes sense when it needs to.
Along the way, Vee meets Ian (Dave Franco)–another player. The watchers like the two of them together and keep giving them tasks to complete with each other.
The audience should also like them together, since they have a natural chemistry, which helps us see past some of the streaky performances.
The film bounces around between different characters in the story seamlessly without losing us, or its energy, in the process.
At no point do you look down at your watch wondering when the film will be over. It keeps you in its grasp the whole time. And afterward, you’ll be talking with others about hypotheticals if the app actually existed in real life.
You will definitely be surprised by this film, despite any preconceived notions. It’s one of the best we’ve seen in this “techno” subgenre. Maybe by now we’ve gotten over the newness of our devices and can finally get a real film that actually takes control of the technology within it, rather than the other way around.