© STUDIOCANAL GmbH Filmverleih

U.S.A. 2016

Opening 8 Sep 2016

Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writing credits: Jeanne Ryan, Jessica Sharzer
Principal actors: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Kimiko Glenn

Truth or Dare: Centuries old party game especially popular with adolescents and children, gives players a choice between answering a question honestly or accepting a dare others set. Truth or Consequences: American radio (1940–57) then television game show (1950, ended 1988) mixing questions and stunts for players to choose from. Nerve: a hybrid, online game combining elements of both, escalating stakes requiring nerves of steel.

That morning, Vee’s (Roberts) biggest problem is telling mom (Lewis) her exciting, but leave-taking, news. Best friend Syd’s (Meade) call interrupts, then instigates. Vee’s best guy-buddy (Heizer) wants to intervene, especially with Ian’s (Franco) appearance. Syd’s friends (Glenn, Jefferies) root for her. The others cheer-on the players/game: Watchers are everywhere, anywhere. Ty’s (Kelly) involvement introduces riskier, adherent elements; dares turn deadly. Propelling Tommy to a special ally (Wiley). Sound cryptic? Just wait until you must decide: watch or play?

This very smart, sophisticated film is based on Jeanne Ryan’s same-titled young-adult novel, screenplay by Jessica Sharzer. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s direction is compelling; the cast responds gamely. Michael Simmonds’ taut cinematography enthralls whether on Stanton Island, NYC at night or inside the game—great After Effects—just as the originality of Rob Simonsen’s music is hypnotizing. Editors Madeleine Gavin and Jeff McEvoy’s gamesmanship is impressive. Moreover, young-adult books cover topics adults are generally uncomfortable discussing with their children. Nerve’s universal message scrutinizes privacy issues, social media, taking responsibility for one’s actions. Understand? Brace yourself. Odds-on your cell phone will ring as Nerve ends. So, will you watch, or play? (Marinell Haegelin)

Second Opinion

It's illegal but it's the hottest trend amongst the community of high school girls and boys. It is a computer game called “Nerve” and certainly hits the nerve of our time. It's all about “I dare you”!

This innovative action-thriller shows beautiful aerial shots of New York as the camera is closing-in on the real-life players. Thousands are watching on their smart phones, clicking their “likes”. Unexpectedly, the beautiful and shy Vee (Emma Roberts) enters the game after being challenged by her girlfriend Sydney (Emily Meade). The first dare (kissing a stranger) brings her $100 and involves the charming Ian (Dave Franco). After guiding the blind-folded Ian riding his motorbike with 60 mph through the city, she is in the Top Ten. Vee has become reckless, enjoying the attention. Every dare brings more money into her account but gets more risky too. Soon she is no longer in control, is getting scared and wants to stop. At this point not only all the new deposits have disappeared but also all the family's savings. What is happening, who is this dark force?

This film should be seen by teenagers as well as their parents. It makes you aware of the possibilities but also of the dangers and temptations of the internet, the subtle manipulation taking place. It is worrying watching the number of young “followers” wanting ever more risky dares. The spectacle ends with a real-life showdown where the mob screams for action (win or die) like in Roman times at gladiator fights. One wonders, could the fun game of “Pokémon Go” be a harmless forerunner of the “Nerve” where the mob follows blindly, becomes reckless or takes over the rules? (Birgit Schrumpf)

Third Opinion

While Nerve attempts to be a fun, modern film about the potential perils of social media and groupthink, it is instead a vapid and unrealistic portrayal of young people. It follows a day in the life of a smart, good-girl teenager named Vee (Emma Roberts) who joins a social media game where some users choose to be watchers and others players. The players must complete dares in order to win cash which is directly transferred to their bank accounts, and the watchers film the players and determine what type of tasks the players will receive. If a player fails a task they lose all of the money they’ve gained and they are out of the game. Along the way, Vee meets a mysterious and compelling stranger named Ian (Dave Franco) who is also a player, and as they complete tasks together it soon becomes clear that the game is far more dangerous than they could have guessed.

Where Nerve succeeds is in its quick pacing, but not much else. Despite several eye-roll worthy moments, things never slow down enough to allow it to become a problem, and as the film speeds along it is generally entertaining. However, after the credits roll and thought is put into what actually occurred, it quickly becomes clear that there is little of actual worth in Nerve aside from its quick pace. The plot has more holes than Swiss cheese and the main characters have not a lick of sense. Vee, a girl who never takes risks, joins up as a player because of the goading of her friends, and within an hour her whole character changes from cautious to a person who rides into a city with a strange man she just met and then performs illegal and incredibly dangerous dares all at the command of crazy internet creeps. The more we learn about this game and how it works, the more unbelievable it becomes until its final, ridiculous conclusion. While Nerve has an interesting concept, the execution relies too heavily on pacing and the stupidity of the main characters to have any sort of meaning and unfortunately that’s not quite enough to make it worthwhile. (Rose Finlay)

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