Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"The film has visual chops but leaves too many threads hanging"

How hacked off are you by social meeja's domination of the younger generation's virtual world? There's no way back, babe. Get used.

Nerve's plot line is old fashioned enough, but the way it tells it is so fresh it feels like the next of now. Suddenly the screen becomes a smart phone becomes a Facebook page becomes a special effect. Even the game, and this is about a game, exists on the web and yet this web is not spider lite, it's heavy with portent and could kill you in reel life.

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Nerve is the latest obsess for those switched-on techno surfers who like to live dangerously, or watch others live dangerously. The game is Truth or Dare, without the Truth. You are either a Player or a Watcher. The former take the risks and are paid if they complete. The latter are the couch cruisers who place their bets, or whatever they do, the populace at the coliseum, the fans and the fanatics, the crowd liners, the howlers for blood.

Take away the modern accoutrements and you have gladiatorial highs, like those experienced at public executions. Eventually, as the Player advances from Kiss A Stranger to Walk A Ladder From An 8th Floor Window To Another On The Other Side Of The Street to even scarier stuff the money increases into five figures and then some.

Is the money real? Where does it come from? Who is behind this clandestine tournament? Is there a storyline?

Vee (Emma Roberts) is the shy blonde friend of fiesty, loud'n'proud Syd (Emily Meade), who likes to be known as the life and soul of the partAY and therefore a born Player. Rather than being exposed as a wimped out Watcher Vee decides to punch the Player button and from then on she's the one who makes the moves and meets charm rat Ian (Dave Franco), who may be in cahoots with The Organisation.

The film has visual chops but leaves too many threads hanging. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have done a terrific job disguising a TV reality show into something more menacing. Tear away the innovative exterior gloss and what remains is an exciting, competitive rom-thrill.

The actors perform their duties without raising the bar. The test tube smokes but does not explode. It's all about "living in the moment", accompanied by non confrontational pop songs, the kind your married sister would hum to while ironing the undies.

Nerve wants to be inclusive and cool at the same time, but somehow misses out. When it comes to the bite, it chews.

Reviewed on: 11 Aug 2016
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Nerve packshot
A dangerous game of Dare becomes the obsessive must play for social media addicts.
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Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Writer: Jessica Sharzer, based on the novel by Jeanne Ryan

Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Kimiko Glenn, Marc John Jefferies, Machine Gun Kelly, Brian 'Sene' Marc, Ed Squires, Rightor Doyle, Josh Ostrovsky, Eric D'Alessandro, Samira Wiley, Albert Sidoine, Chris Breslin

Year: 2016

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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