With horror fare such as 2015’s well-executed Unfriended and this year’s so-so Friend Request jumping on the social media bandwagon, it’s no surprise that in such techno-literate times we’re seeing another anti-web flick hit our screens. Directorial duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s Nerve – starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco – is an interesting, but ultimately shallow, look into the murky world of the dark web and internet anonymity.
A goody two shoes, wannabee photographer who just can’t muster up the courage to talk to her football playing crush, Emma Roberts’ Vee (short for Venus) is a walking high school cliché. On the cusp of popularity with her promiscuous BFF Sydney (Emily Meade), the real go-getter in their social circle, the nearly graduated senior has a night to remember when she’s introduced by her chum to a super-secret online dare game, Nerve.
In an attempt to beat away the ‘safe’ reputation that she has garnered within her friendship group, Vee decides to take part in the not-so-legal online challenge where she soon comes across fellow participant Ian (Franco). From relatively innocent to the outright insane, as the night wears on the ante rises quickly and the truth surrounding this mysterious community unravels.
New York City at night is a sight to behold. The bright lights shimmer in the growing darkness, offering a glitzy spectacular that fits this youthful outing well. Despite its glossy appeal – and a premise which raises eyebrows – it’s a film that never quite catches our attention like it really should.
Highly technological, it sits comfortably within modern day society’s obsession with all things World Wide Web. Social media and Skype calls, to dubious internet activities, hackers and online anonymity; it’s like an iPhone tick list of 21st century web-based talking points. Lots of interesting things and much to discuss, yet Nerve never really hits its mark. Never intense enough to hold our interest, nor deep enough to challenge its convictions, Joost and Schulman’s work is too cool for school – it looks the part, yet is messy and shallow, failing to deliver on the intriguing premise it promised.