After just watching a trailer for this tech-teen thriller, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't want a social-media based narrative that would turn into some silly stalker/horror/slasher film, but I did want a social-media based narrative that was relative, interesting and tasteful. Thankfully, I was presented with the latter.
Following on from 'Catfish', directors Schulman and Joost can say they know their target audience. Teenagers. But not ones that fall on crass comedy or brainless horror. They film for teenagers who are in touch with society, and who can understand the concept of their story.
Here we have the pressure and power of social media through a fictional game called 'Nerve' where basically those playing accept dares set by those watching and get cash rewards and social popularity. You only lose by "Bailing" or "Failing" a dare. And you have to film it on your phone / tablet on the internet. Live.
Sounds like what kids do on Twitter or Facebook or Periscope now, doesn't it, really? And it's that sense of realism that makes this a gripping thriller as you see the power that social media plays in today's youth society. Status is everything, and popularity is key to feeling important and liked by thousands of "nobody's" who like your content.
Our cast is also fleshed out by, to me at least, "nobody's", but they can act. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco are our likable leads, with decent support representing the teen spectrum from bitchy, possessive Emily Meade to the sensible but mocked Miles Heizer. They are all representing many of the teen audiences out there, and I guarantee we've all felt like them at certain points in our youth.
With stylish visuals and action filmed across practical locations across New York during the night which feels more alive as it does in the day, 'Nerve' isn't packed with gratuitous nudity, sex, violence or dumb stunts. It's intelligent, gripping and has a really good pace to it. Sequences like riding a motorbike blindfolded, having a tattoo or hanging from a crane are all beautifully shot to amp up the thrills or ease on the drama for you to appreciate. The ending goes a little bit 'Wicker Man'-esque for entertainment purposes, but still...maybe these things DO exist out there for social media groups. It's these questions you ask yourself thinking when a moment is a bit far-fetched, you suddenly think "what if...".
I did feel old watching this, and I'm only 31, but I've never been into social media like this, but I certainly know it exists and I can fully believe something like 'Nerve' can and will exist one day. But, as our directors know, it's not a good or bad creation. It all boils down to how you, the user - the Player - uses it and for what purpose. The message is clear come the closing credits.
Go check it out because it's a stylish film, packed with some original ideas and a strong cast which make for an entertaining 90mins.