Nerve movie poster
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Nerve
Nerve movie poster

Nerve Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Nerve succeeds where many films over the years has failed: capturing the zeitgeist of teens, technology and the danger the combination of the two possess. The thriller, while far from incredible, is an entertaining, fast-paced and absorbing adventure about a viral mobile game that spirals out of control. It’s worth a rental at least.

Emma Roberts stars as the protagonist, an uptight teen who decides to mix things up by agreeing to take on a series of increasingly risky dares posed to her by an anonymous group of mobile subscribers. Roberts makes for a fine lead—it’s a great role for her—and has decent chemistry with co-star Dave Franco.

However, and not to discount Roberts and Franco, but directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) could have gone with a completely unknown cast and still had a similar outcome. After all, Nerve is a concept film—a thriller based on a sort-of-farfetched-but-not-really idea—and concept films either work or they don’t, because you either buy into the concept or not, or the filmmakers convince you to. Or not.

Nerve works. Entertaining from the first second and featuring a story that only accelerates as it goes along, Joost and Schulman inject energy into every second of their 95-minute film. The result is a real crowd-pleaser, even if the ending ultimately succumbs to a bit of the teeny bopper dumbness the story flirts with throughout.

The movie’s only real weakness is the climax and a few scenes leading up to it. The quasi-twist doesn’t go for broke like the rest of the movie does, nor is it properly explained (spoiler: when did she end up connecting with him to even hash out a plan?). Worst, Joost and Schulman succumb to silly caricatures of high schoolers—played by the likes of 27-year-old Kimiko Glenn and 29-year-old Samira Wiley (both stars of Orange is the New Black)—that of course are able to hack banks and mobile networks and other stupid stereotypes, because that’s what is needed of the story. It just all begins to get a little absurd—had the story stayed a little closer to reality, Nerve very well may have worked even better.

Despite a lackluster conclusion, Nerve is a fun, easy-to-watch thriller packed with entertainment value.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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