Film Review: Nerve (2016)

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

RATED: 4/5

There are very few movies that leave me sitting there as the credits roll, as if stunned, trying to sink myself back into the real world after being so lost in a thrilling story. Surprisingly, this did it for me.
Forgive me as it’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed something!

Nerve is a cautionary tale for youth in the digital world. Unfortunately, it seems almost entirely possible something like this could happen, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe something pretty similar actually did happen, resulting a lot of young teen suicides.

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There are a lot of digital world issues that this film touches on in a realistic way. Many people nowadays are glued to their phones and obsessed with “instafame” and gaining followers. Sydney (Emily Meade) is the prime example of this in the film and even though you can see her growing obsession with followers from a mile away, it’s still infuriating to watch, but in a good way. Her scene on the ladder between the two windows was so nail-biting! Drunk and in heels doing that?! Also, how did they happen to know the people in the apartment at the other end of the ladder? She is just that desperate to have more watchers than her own best friend, she would risk her life so callously.

The characters are a little stereotypical, but it’s hard to not make them like that. There’s Tommy (Miles Heizer) who managed to nab two stereotypes as a character – the shy friend who is in love with the main character and it’s so obvious to everyone except for the main character, and the tech geek friend who knows all about codes and hacks, and coincidentally becomes a very useful skill when push comes to shove.
Ian (Dave Franco) is the cool and mysterious hot guy (he rides a motorbike…) who is always composed and you know he’s going to be the love interest the second you see him. His character wasn’t bad. I appreciate that he didn’t play it so over the top.
Vee (Emma Roberts) was a shy girl who rarely did anything out of her comfort zone and was unsurprisingly the school’s photographer because she’s an *outsider looking in*, she’s invisible, an observer, quietly captures *moments*.

I would consider Sydney to not be quite the stereotype only because she is friends with Vee, which is baffling to me. She is a bit of an obnoxious, out-there, “bad girl” who does what she wants and (apparently) doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. So why is she friends with Vee? Sydney even said it herself, something along the lines of, “I’m fun and you’re boring.” Vee seems like someone she wouldn’t even notice in high school.
J.P., the guy Vee had a crush on, is one hell of a jock stereotype that I can’t even be bothered getting into.

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What I really enjoyed about this film is the editing and motion graphics. I believe what made this film so good was, yes, the story, but also the way it was put together. It really got my heart racing because the pacing was just right. The graphics made you constantly aware of the app, so that even when you weren’t looking at the app itself on screen, it was like you were always in the app, hyperaware of it like it was following them everywhere.

I have to admit, when we were made to believe that there was something sketchy about Ian’s past and found out that he had played Nerve previously in Seattle where he and some other guy were in the final when the other guy died, I thought I had already figured it all out. Since Vee never divulged into how her brother died, I thought we would find out later that the other guy who died playing Nerve against Ian was her brother, and she would find out Ian was the guy that could have saved him and climactic drama ensues. Though that might have been an interesting path to take, I’m glad I was wrong because I don’t like being able to predict a plotline.

My favourite part was the ending. I was a little hesitant to believe that the majority vote was ‘yes’ to shooting her. People are messed up, but I like to believe that they aren’t that messed up and that stupid. What did they think would come of it? There were thousands of people in the arena watching, and tens of thousands more watching online. Do you really think authorities wouldn’t know or do something about it? Or the media turning it into an international headline? There were thousands of cameras there to capture the shooting and the sickening jeers from the crowd chanting for Ty to shoot her.

But of course, they are that stupid, because it’s only until they read on their phone that they are an accessory to murder that they realise what they just took part in.
The crowd went from 100 to 0 after that, and their silent exit didn’t sit well with me. They didn’t appear to feel guilty – which I’m assuming that’s what they were trying to portray – instead they looked careless, as if it was just another notification on their screen. They read the message, then shut off their tablets and went to bed like they didn’t believe they really are an accessory to murder. I mean I know they weren’t because she wasn’t actually shot, but they don’t know that!

But after all of this reflection, in the end it’s all about that premise; are you a watcher or a player? And that’s what resonated with me the most. Some might argue that Vee didn’t need to step out of her comfort zone because there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. True – there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, but there’s a difference between introversion and never taking a risk. I’m just like Vee at the start of the film; I am 100% a watcher through and through, and I hate it. This movie doesn’t inspire me to take risks (if anything, it is steering me deeper into the opposite direction) but it does send a true message. It really is in all of us – we just have to get out of our own heads. No, you don’t have to shoot someone to take a risk and no, followers do not equate to love.

I really did enjoy this movie. I was on the edge of my figurative seat the whole time and never knew what to expect or how it was going to end. It was a pleasant surprise how well they sent you a message about our world without being too obvious about it.

One more thing – there’s no way in hell their phone batteries would have lasted throughout the night like that!

Let me know your thoughts on the movie!

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