NERVE [2016]


Directed by Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Written by Jeanne Ryan (novel), Jessica Sharzer (screenplay)

Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade

Nerve is based in 2020, but it could easily be based in the world we live in today. From ‘planking’ to Jackass to ‘Pokemon Go’, none of this movie seems surprising in our app-driven society. The clips that Nerve players film of themselves could easily have been pulled from YouTube itself. Maybe they were. What hurts though is that this is a promising premise that doesn’t deliver.

So what is Nerve?


The player signs up as a watcher or a player. The watchers decide what the dares are for the players, and the two most popular players by the end of the game enter a ‘final round’. It is all a bit over-the-top and grandiose, but so far, so good. These dares begin to turn into dangerous stunts as, this course, it will get more viewers, more hits, more clicks, more likes, more thumbs up, more re-tweets. The game also requires that you enter all your bank and personal information, another nod towards current technology.

In addition to all this, all dares must be filmed on the player’s phone, or they ‘fail’, and lose all the money they have earned. Money makes the world go round, as does the media (‘social media’, rather), and the film portrays this realistically and in a way that is incredibly believable. This could easily happen today.

Peer pressure pushes Vee over the edge, as pokes from friends about her lack of fun and adventure hurt. Her friend Sydney is also extremely popular within the game. Vee meets Ian meet via a ‘kiss a stranger for 500$’ dare, and it turns out Ian plays Nerve too. The watchers decide that they like the couple, as the rest of the film plays out mainly between these two, and also Vee’s competing and jealous friend Sydney, but it isn’t a fully-written side-plot and doesn’t really go anywhere.

The watchers dare the two to perform increasingly insane stunts for incredible amounts of money, and bailing is equal to failing – all money lost. So the game holds the player prisoner in a way; the film not so subtly suggesting the link between increased digital technology holding us prisoner, holding us back from truly connecting like we did, say, thirty years ago when we ate family dinners around the dinner table without devices in one hand.

The ending makes a statement itself, but again at the same time it just isn’t that exciting or tense. It is well written, but it doesn’t engage the viewers often enough. The paper-thin characters can’t help here, as well as the complete lack of chemistry between Dave Franco and Emma Roberts.


Nerve is entertaining enough, and well-edited, but there isn’t a high level of tension or dread to be found. It does though make a much, much better point about social media than the truly awful Uninvited. One can’t help but think though that this could have been a tense, unpredictable thriller, without the level of sheen and polish and neon colours that this film has in four beer(1)abundance, all of which is at odds with the tone of the story. Perhaps this is because Nerve seems to be aimed at the YA market, who knows. But do know that this isn’t gritty or dark, and it won’t have you holding your breath. It certainly says a lot of things about growing up in this modern, ‘connected’ world, but the film itself just isn’t that exciting.

Two beers short of a sixer


25 Comments on “NERVE [2016]

  1. I laughed off this movie when I first heard about it, but the more I heard, the more I actually wanted to see it. I don’t think I’ll make it to the cinema in time, but most reviews I’ve read have held it in the same regard as you. I’m quite looking forward to it! Great review 🙂
    – Allie


    • Yeah it was a bit of fun, but nothing overly memorable, except for a few scenes, and even those weren’t tense or anything. And yeah, no character development hurts too


  2. Glad you had a better time with this than me. It just struck me as a high school movie dressed up in a mildly interesting plot. It completely fell apart for me in the latter half. I would however recommend you to check out Catfish, the debut film by these directors. It’s an eye-opening doc. about the dangers of the internet.
    Great review, as always man!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catfish, I’ll check that out man, thanks for the tip.

      In retrospect I was too nice. I totally agree with you, I guess its the relevance that saves this movie from being a total waste of time.


  3. Looks interesting. Some of the visual imagery looks like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂


  4. I gotta say I’m not really into YA movies despite the fact that I liked the Hunger Games. That said the premise of this one does intrigue me, so I might give it a try. Plus I’ll be featuring the film’s composer Rob Simonsen later this week about another film that he worked on, The Age of Adaline.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t really notice the soundtrack, dunno if that’s a good or bad thing!

      I’m with you on YA movies though. Divergent, Maze Runner, Hunger Games… goddamn YA dystopian movies alone have become this major trend, which threw me off my own dystopian novel as all of a sudden I thought, ‘great, now what I’m writing is part of a freakin YA trend!’

      And yeah, then there is this. More YA stuff, and YA stuff is almost always very shallow, though I never bothered watching the Hunger Games, which from what i’ve read isn’t as bad. But when I first heard about it, it just sounded like a toned down version of Battle Royale.

      Sorry for my rant, yet again 😛


      • Ahah, I guess it’s a good thing as at least you’re not bothered by it. I always notice music on film, soundtrack is perhaps my all time fave music genre. Hey if your stuff is good, doesn’t matter if it’s a YA genre Jordan. Hunger Games is ok, started out great but the last one is blah. I hated Twilight and I’ve avoided most YA, including Maze Runner. But this one sounds pretty good as it’s a smaller budget instead of a studio-backed ‘franchise.’


      • Yeah Nerve is better than that crap, but not by a lot if I’m honest. If it weren’t so relevant I’d have been a lot more harsh


  5. Pingback: Everybody’s Chattin + Most-Anticipated Movies from TIFF 2016

  6. Great post; you have nailed the essence of what Nerve is about. Its also a satire on the herd mentality upon which social media thrives. A bit predictable and could have dug deeper, so I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fair score, about the same as mine if you were to look at the actual percentage. And you also nailed it mate – a satire on the herd mentality rampant within social media. Great call there, with you on that one for sure

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hahaha…I actually liked this one. It’s not great by any stretch, but I was definitely entertained throughout. To me, it was like Finchers The Game…but for 13 year olds.

    Which sadly, is how I roll in the summertime. Brain off, smile wide.

    Solid review!


    • Brain off, smile wide. I like it!!

      The Game for 13 year olds… perfect analogy!

      This wasn’t bad but goddamnit Dave Franco’s face gives the the shits


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