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!

Amateur Review: Chronicle, directed by Josh Trank

*Please note that when I call them “Amateur Reviews”, they’re not technically reviews, they are actually just my scattered thoughts on the subject at hand.
**This also contains juicy spoilers you may or may not want to read.

I did have interest to see this film when it first came out, but not enough to actually get off my arse and to the cinemas. Then as I was forgetting about it, Chronicle was briefly mentioned in my Film and TV History class this morning. And I thought, why not? So here I am, having just finished watching the film not more than five minutes ago, and let me tell you this: my emotions are confused.

Chronicle was very easy to follow. I suppose it is one of those “teen movies” where they are more focused on showing rather than to make you think.
Admittedly, and unsurprisingly, I watched a download of this that my friend gave me, which was a recording in the cinemas. Honestly, I didn’t think people did that anymore. I don’t really like to watch films like that when the quality was so poor, but alas, I had a downloaded copy and it would save me the effort. The reason I’m rambling on about this whole bad-quality-downloaded thing is because when they suddenly cut to the three of them doing all their telekinesis tricks was because I thought that the download I owned had a chunk missing or something. But then I guess it didn’t. So it kind of left me out of whack when all of a sudden they have these magical powers; the cut in storyline was a little too sharp for me. But I guess if they’re trying to stick to the whole naturalism/realism style, you wouldn’t really expect Andrew to coincidentally record an accidental moment of discovering their telekinesis abilities.

I was okay with “believing” the whole telekinesis thing when they did it (willing suspension of disbelief), but the flying through the clouds bit was a bit much. I can believe them flying, but not through the clouds. Yes, of all things I’m not willing to believe, it’s that they were in the clouds. If they’re trying to make this whole thing realistic, what with the “found footage” style, at least let all the aspects outside of telekinesis make sense. You can’t breathe in the air pressure of that altitude, and it would be so freezing up there, that a thermal jacket isn’t going to fix things. Also, I couldn’t help but laugh after extremely serious and dramatic confrontations that ended with one of them just turning around and flying out of a window or something. It just looked comical to me.
Other than that, I was surprisingly responsive to this movie. When I watch movies at home, yes, I talk to the screen and smile and laugh and make ‘aaw’ noises and insult the irritating characters. When I was watching Chronicle, I was so aware of me smiling, for so long, throughout a lot of the first half of the movie. A big smile, with teeth! I was having fun watching them having fun (although I was very aware of how obnoxiously dumb and immature they made this generation look. But that’s already how people see us anyway :/). I am still extremely jealous and want to go find a hole with weird crystal things that will make me pass out and then have magical powers afterwards.

In my opinion though, most of them are douches. All the people in the high school are those typical brutally excluding cliques. Casey, though. Freaking Casey. Yeah, she’s supposed to be the cool girl who’s also kind of mysterious and walks around with a camera, and Matt’s there trying so hard to impress her and saying all this pretentious shit, and she was just so demeaning. Especially when he went to her house, she just had that smile and nod that wasn’t for good intentions – like she was belittling him, like she didn’t really care at all what he was saying, or just wasn’t even listening, just thinking, ‘wow, get a load of this guy’. Andrew’s dad was quite clearly a douchebag and a half. I don’t really want to get too much into this guy, because he just makes me irritated. But I feel he was a bit flat as a character – he was all rage rage rage, grief, blame, rage rage, half-dead. I just wish he smothered Andrew with a pillow when instead of crying and shouting at him. Or at least just cry because his wife just died and his son is in the ICU because he went nutso trying to get money for his mother’s medication. Also, I find it hard to believe he went out looking for Andrew that night. Really.

And Andrew. Fucking Andrew. He really is that high-school-nerd-who-is-unloved-and-doesn’t-belong-and-ends-up-becoming-a-crazy-serial-killer type character! Yes, I’m being serious! It’s always the quiet ones that end up being the crazy villains because of their horrible past. I think it’s safe to say, I had no sympathy for him from the beginning. Okay, maybe at the very beginning when his dad hit him and pushed him on the ground, and bullied by those sad-life jocks. After that, rave party onwards, I was already over his whining and his, ‘guise, wer r u? gaiz i dont think u shud go in da hole guyz, omg lets go back gaiz omg matt ur my ride home’. Fair enough, everything bad he did, initially, had good intentions. And yes, he went nutso and clearly had no good intentions there, but I think, to put it simply, he had rage issues. Any harm he caused purposely was caused by his rage issues. You saw it when he said things like, ‘Seriously, Steve, stay away from me, I need to be alone right now, just leave me alone’. BAM. Steve dies.

The most satisfying part, though, was when Andrew’s dad started beating him up again and Andrew throws him against the wall and puts on this epic voice and says, ‘I CAN CRUSH YOUUUU’. Lordy, that settled a lot of rage out of me. It’s just one of those things, you know? When there’s that one character who is just constantly on your nerves and always gets away with it, but you can’t do anything because you can’t freaking control the movie, so finally a character gets shit done and throws a bitch down.

Despite how many negatives I seemed to have mentioned about this film, it’s safe to say I enjoyed it. In the style that it is, I enjoyed it. The thing is, my kind of movie is the very thought-provoking kind where I don’t mind getting a little confused along the way because there’s a lot to take in, and not just seeing a plot unfold. I’m not saying this movie isn’t thought-provoking, because every film should be. I’m saying this is the kind of movie that you can just sit and enjoy and not have to think too hard about what that close up means, or why the music is contradicting the image, etc. It’s very much a movie to watch with your friends (ironically, I didn’t) and just not analyse (ironically, I did)!

So on an entertainment level, it was pretty good, but on an overall level, I think some things were missing, or some of the characters needed a bit more dimension. But the bottom line is, I enjoyed watching it enough to talk to the characters in the movie (especially, ‘SMOTHER HIM WITH A PILLOW’ to his dad when Andrew was in hospital; I knew mayhem was about to break out!).

I rate Chronicle: ★★★✰✰