Review by Ashley Marie Wells
Much like Emma Roberts’ gawky and shy character Vee (short for Venus), I avoided the dares in agitating games like “truth or dare,” preferring the role of the voyeur. If only I had that bouncy, edgy friend, afraid of nothing and ready to consume everything, to pressure me to banish the shrinking violet and become a legend. There is nothing like a little passive aggressive competition between girlfriends that really brings out the stupid. Lucky for Vee, she has such a friend in the form of sad-soul cool girl Sydney (Emily Meade). And the mix would of course not be complete without Tommy (Miles Heizer), the guy helplessly in love with Vee but eternally in the friend zone, and Ian (Dave Franco) who rides a motorcycle and almost pulls off the persona of being a bad-ass. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman have given us a 21st century teeny bopper dream of a movie in “Nerve.” It’s a glitzy, gritty, social media fueled, teenage dirt-bag hot mess.
Vee (Emma Roberts) is a wallflower only days away from graduating high school, desperate to leave her Staten Island home, but afraid to accept an offer from a school across the country due to her mother’s desire for her to stay home and play the role of roommate. But there’s a new game in town that’s destined to test Vee’s limits, throttling her well over the line.
Nerve is a secret game that takes old school “truth or dare” to a new level. In fact forget truth altogether because it’s all about the dare. Are you a player or a watcher? Which is synonymous with, “Are you a dumbass or a creeper?” But when there’s significant cash flow involved playing, the dumbass is enticing. Nerve is a good way to get teens addicted to gambling early and perhaps a way to decrease the earth’s surplus population. It’s a game completely fueled by the young person’s innate belief that they are untouchable. Needless to say, Vee haphazardly selects to become a player. She needs only to remember that “snitches get stitches.”
Out to prove that she’s nobody’s sidekick, Vee with the ever-protective Tommy in tow, is ready to be dared. Much to the dismay of Tommy, after Vee completes the “kiss a stranger” dare with the effortlessly cool Ian, the watchers decide they like Vee and Ian as a duo and proceed to give each of them a string of dares that will take them to the final. As Vee’s watchers/popularity skyrockets against Sydney’s it’s obvious that lines are being drawn in the sand, but there’s bigger fish to fry as the game takes a turn and becomes life or death.
I am always amazed how New York can look so glamorous and dirty at the same time, especially at night. The nighttime setting in “Nerve,” is like an alternate reality with its glittering lights and black hole alleyways. The aesthetics of the film are probably its most appealing aspects as the story itself is kind of weak. “Nerve,” is like a lesser version of a “Black Mirror,” episode. It fails to achieve the darkness it reaches for and the lessons it strives to teach. It also doesn’t help that Emma Roberts’ hair did not once become an impossible rat’s nest after riding on the back of a motorcycle at 60 mph. But if you are in the mood for some adrenaline fun, and light commentary on our social media driven society, “Nerve,” is worth a watch.
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