Nerve centres around Venus Delmonico, aka Vee (Emma Roberts), whose world centres around social media and how important she feels when she gets likes and retweets and all the rest that entails.
She’s encouraged to take part in this titular game by best-friend Sydney (Emily Meade), where Watchers pay to watch this “game of truth or date without the truth”, while players play for cash and glory. Thing is… with there being so much you can watch online for free, why would you pay?? And since the game features teenagers who are expert hackers, why would they pay $20 for 24 hours of access when they could hack it for free in seconds? Yes, the plot is more flimsy than a sheet of cellophane.
From a girl eating dog food, to a cheerleader baring her bum, to a skateboarder hanging onto the back of a cop car, you’re always trying to achieve over your previous dares, so you can beat the others and win the game, even though it doesn’t define how long a game actually lasts – by this film, it seems to have started at lunchtime and ended late into the evening. Anyhoo, the game knows what your likes and dislikes are as it culls all the info from your social media profiles, just like all those games on Facebook that ask how many songs you can name from the ’80s, for example… and then you wonder why you get more spam email and phone calls(!)
Soon into the proceedings, Vee meets up with Ian (Dave Franco) and the pair do their dares in pairs.
It’s all very swish and flash, and seeing watchers following the two leads as they go about their adventures, reminds me of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror episode, White Bear, where everyone followed Lenora Crichlow around, although unlike that programme, they’re not looking to kill anyone.
And if your phone was filming video footage all day long, while streaming to the world, and the screen staying on during any downtime, how long would the battery actually last??!
Elsewhere in the cast, Juliette Lewis used to have great, strange roles like Natural Born Killers and Kalifornia, but here… she just plays concerned mom to daughter Vee.
Nerve passes a reasonable 96 minutes, but don’t expect anything incredible. It was a PG-13 in the US, but I expect it was upped from a 12 to a 15-cert in the UK because of the danger some characters put themselves through, as well as elements of violence. In fact, checking afterwards, for the former, the BBFC labelled it in their tweet as “risky imitable behaviour”.
The film is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, and there’s no issues with the print whatsoever. It looks stunning as you’d expect for a modern movie, and I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV, connected to a PS4.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1 and features a great number of aural effects as all the videogame-style features swirl around the camera
The extras are split into two sections as identified on the main menu: Watcher and Player.
“Watcher” gives you a ton of interview snippets featuring the key cast and crew, discussing locations, stunts and other aspects of the movie. The menu is done in the style of the film where you see the game tracking players around the town with their username in the sky and lines tracking down to the street where they are. This leads to SEVENTEEN snippets, which is great, but because they’re only around 2-3 minutes apiece, I would’ve preferred an additional ‘play all’ link.
The extras in this section are:
- Ian: The Daredevil (2:10)
- The Blind Ride (1:48)
- Sydney: The Bestie (1:40)
- Hang Tight (1:40)
- A New Approach (2:39)
- Only In New York (1:19)
- Vee Is For Venus (2:09)
- Ty: So Good At Being Bad (1:54)
- Step Up (1:58)
- Tommy: The Dark Web Hero (1:48)
- Belt It Out (1:47)
- The Art of the Prank (1:20)
- Internet Squad (1:49)
- Shop ‘n Streak (1:21)
- A Rad Soundtrack (1:17)
- Nerve (dares carried out in real life) (2:45)
- The Fat Jewish Gets Tattewish: Outtakes with Josh Ostrovsky (2:48)
“Player” gives you three options:
- “The Players”: text pages about the characters
- “Do you have the Nerve?”: a game where you’re given certain challenges that you can just tell the machine you’ve completed, since a machine is not realistically able to accept proof. These include Get in the shower with your clothes on, Find someone who will allow you to brush their teeth and Peel a banana with your feet.
- “Are you a Watcher or a Player?”: A quiz that asks what you’d do in certain situations to determine what type of person you are.
After 16 questions, I was considered a player and “off the chain” – “You’re a risk-taker, but the brakes work when you need them. You’ll try anything once and are not afraid of a gamble”. Step right up, ladies! 😀
There’s also an Audio Description track for anyone who finds those useful. Not sure if you’ll hear the description under the loudness of the movie, but anyway…
The main menu also features clips from the film in the background set against a piece from the score. There are subtitles in English and Spanish, and a few more chapters than the usual, as there’s 16. I always work on the rule of thumb of one every five minutes so a handful extra wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s better than 12.
Running time: 96 minutes
Released: December 5th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Languages/Audio: English DTS X, Spanish DTS HD MA 5.1, English DTS HD MA 2.0 Optimised for late-night viewing, DTS Headphone X
Subtitles, English SDH, Spanish
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Disc Format: BD50
Directors: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Producers: Anthony Katagas and Allison Shearmur
Screenplay: Jessica Sharzer (based on the novel by Jeanne Ryan)
Music: Rob Simonsen
Vee: Emma Roberts
Ian: Dave Franco
Sydney: Emily Meade
Tommy: Miles Heizer
Nancy: Juliette Lewis
Liv: Kimiko Glenn
Wes: Marc John Jefferies
Ty: Colson Baker
J.P.: Brian Marc
Chuck: Ed Squires
Bergdorf Salesman: Rightor Doyle
Dirt Beard: Josh Ostrovsky
Hype Boi: Eric D’Alessandro
Hacker Kween: Samira Wiley
Clarence: Albert Sidoine
Bergdorf Security Guard: Chris Breslin
Taxi Cab Driver: Wesley Volcy
Derrick: Damond McFarland
Robbie: Deema Aitken
Officer McMillan: Michael Drayer
Security Guard: Earl W Mayers
Times Square Girlfriend: Diana Kolsky
Times Square Boyfriend: Matthew Meyer
Town Crier: Michal R Birnbaum
Watcher at Dorilton: Ryan Forsythe
Senior Sales Woman: Kim Ramirez
Cop: Noam Tomaschoff
Bergdorf Lady: Phyllis Barasch
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.