The concept with the film of the same name, Nerve, is an online phenomenon described as Truth of Dare without the truth. Okay. Participants choose to either be watchers or players – watch crazy-assed people hang from sky-high rafters, merely kiss a stranger, grab a policeman’s gun – or have a go yourself. The dares are endless, all seeming filmed by wide-eyed dopes on their phones. A tale of the ridiculousness rather than he revolutionary.
It is an idea, based on Jeanne Ryan’s book (she’s no Philip K. Dick perhaps) adapted by Jessica Sharzer, that could have been far, far better. Maybe with Nicolas Winding Refn or David Fincher or Rian Johnson behind the wheel. Or better writers? Andrew Nicol? Charlie Kauffman? Or just better than the nerveless result directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Instead, although the set up and originality is clearly there, we have to endure the film journeying into cliche, unexplained narrative and tone shifts, not to mention some uncomfortable dialogue.
The casting is typical, but have to wonder if someone with the allure of Emma Roberts is ever to to make a break for herself. Dave Franco, yep, James’ brother, might as well have the script in his hands. Any romance or tension is squashed before it can blossom. And Juliette Lewis is hardly here nor there, a character so fickle and flimsy it is just laughable. There are plus sides though, the use of neon colors, a shamefully catchy soundtrack, and some pretty nifty photography certainly help pass the time.