Scrolling through Netflix, I came across the neon thumbnail for 2016 film Nerve. It’s based on the book of the same name by Jeanne Ryan. The synopsis intrigued me: a girl decides to play an online game, where you perform dares for money. It starts off as a bit of fun, but quickly takes a dark and terrifying turn as things spiral out of control.
It starts off as a cute American teen movie, following a shy teenager, Vee (Emma Roberts), who’s crushing on classmate JP. She loves photography, and wants to go to an arts college… In short, she’s living a relatively ordinary life.
All this changes when she finds out about Nerve, which her best friend Sydney has become popular on. You choose to either be a ‘Watcher’ or a ‘Player’. The ‘Players’ are given dares, which if they complete, they earn money for. The ‘Watchers” role is to observe and film the ‘Players’ doing their dares. Vee is teased for not being adventurous, and after being embarrassed by Sydney and JP, decides to sign up as a ‘Player’.
At first her dares are tame. She is dared to kiss a stranger, who turns out to be Ian (Dave Franco), another ‘Player’. He is then dared to sing to her, and at this, their destinies are tied. Following this, they ride a motorbike together into the city. When they arrive, they are given more dares, which get more and more risky, with higher stakes.
It’s an engaging and creative concept and plot, which keeps you hooked and interested all the way through – as the stakes get higher, you become more invested in the characters as you want them to succeed. You can barely watch in the dramatic finale, looking through your fingers at the events that are unfolding.
Emma Roberts and Dave Franco are both in top form, as well as 13 Reasons Why’s Miles Heizer, who plays Tommy and Emily Meade, who plays Sydney, who are both excellent in supporting roles. The characters are believable, as is the romance between Vee and Ian, which is arguably the most important part of any film as you need to like, and believe the characters, through the acting, which in this film is very good.
One thing I personally value very highly when watching a film is the cinematography. Cleverly switching between the ‘Watchers” phone cameras and conventional camera angles, it makes for an exciting watch as you are placed right there in the action. The phones make things personal, even a little uncomfortable at times, but this all adds to the general mood and feel of the film.
Gorgeous neon tones throughout the film are a joy for the eyes, such as watching Ian’s light-up blue motorbike racing through bright city lights at night, which is a thing of beauty. In fact, all the scenes in and around the city are amazing, a few of which you can see here:
A combination of good acting, gorgeous cinematography in both the creative camera techniques and the ‘city at night’ aesthetic which always works well, as well as a thrilling plot which keeps you on the edge of your seat, Nerve is definitely a film I’d recommend.