The internet is no stranger to critics who view social media culture as the downfall of society but it is rarely taken seriously to the point of a thought experiment which dares to question what if an aspect of social media was taken to the point of total moral infringement.
Nerve follows Vee (Emma Roberts) who after being mocked for her unadventurous nature signs up to play a game where “players” are paid for completing dares and “watchers” pay to watch and assign dares. Over the course of the film Vee slowly becomes more daring as the dares involve higher risk until the game pushes too hard and she discovers a twisted side to the watchers who relentlessly raise the stakes.
The most immediately striking aspect of this world is that it darkly resembles the ever growing trend of social media dare culture and what it could become. By highlighting how players are coaxed into to doing dares by their friends, paid like YouTubers and trend to be watched online, Nerve presents a fantastically dark tone in addition to delivering some pleasantly surprising messages about crowd mentality in societies by likening the watchers to the YouTube comments section. A brightly neon coloured palette is also omnipresent while Vee is playing to give a video game like impression but this slowly becomes darker as events become increasingly wicked giving the film a brilliant style while aiding the tone.
Of course the film is not without fault. The film could have been more thrilling after being marketed as such. While there are scenes which are genuinely tense many of the dare sequences lose their dare factor in attempts at humour or become predictable, particularly in the third act. However, the plot’s largest problem is that Vee’s sudden viral popularity is unbelievable as is the fact that all the events occur in one night. The rise and fall formula does work and structurally everything flows but it loses immersion when considering how many people play according to the world we are being exposed to. It’s a minor point but glaring once noticed and spoils an otherwise entertaining film which should not be over looked.
Image: Gage Skidmore; Flickr