Shy, nerdy teenager Venus (Emma Roberts) – known to her friends as Vee – lives with her grieving mum nancy (Juliette Lewis) on Staten Island and sees an opportunity to show her high school friends her wild side through a new online dare game called Nerve, which her popular best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) is already playing.
The game is made up of Watchers and Players. Watchers pay a fee to observe and record what's happening live and, if they are nearby, record it with their phones or tablets; the Players are dared by the Watchers to complete outrageous tasks for money. But what starts off as just a bit of fun quickly turns nasty.
Vee teams up with Ian (Dave Franco) to complete dares together. From simly kissing in a diner and trying on expensive designer clothes in an upmarket store to motorcycling blindfolded at 60mph through the streets of Manhattan and hanging from a crane at the top of a skyscraper, the plot fails to successfully make it believable. There are moments of "as if" throughout the film because the acting isn't authentic. Saying that, the niche concept might appeal to younger generations who are glued to technology. The whole movie relies on mobile phones, laptops and the internet. Many shots were made to look like they were being filmed through Watchers phones, which means there's a lot of wobbly moments and bad camera angles.
Franco's character is a bit of a mystery man, so there's no character development until about halfway through when he finally explains his back story – but there's not enough time to invest in his character. There were several loose ends which were tied quickly and clumsily at the end of the film. The plot attempted to take viewers on twists and turns but it left a feeling of disappointment in the end.
A highlight was seeing a couple of the Orange is the New Black stars playing small roles including Samira Wiley and Kimiko Glenn.
Nerve does contain an interesting reflection of society today through this strange film and how far people can go when they're acting from behind a screen. It's an enjoyable watch at times but you have to be prepared for an outrageous, silly concept which doesn't take much brain power.