IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 94 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
High school senior Venus “Vee” Delmonico wants to leave her home in Staten Island to go to college in California, but her mother, who is still grieving from the recent death of her son and Vees’s brother, expects her to attend a local affordable college and commute home every night. Her friend, Sydney, becomes popular in Nerve: an online reality video game of objective-focused “truth or dare” where people either enlist online as “players” or pay to watch as “watchers”. Players accept the watchers’ dares, receiving money rewards that increase with the danger of the dare when completed successfully. Chastised as being adventurous, and after a fall-out with Sydney, Vee signs up for Nerve as a player. Her first dare is to kiss a stranger at a diner for five seconds….
Like Pete’s Dragon, Nerve surprised me considerably. Similarly, lack of time this week precludes me from giving it a full length review, but I may do one when the Blu-ray comes out. One thing I should say right off is that, according to a friend of mine, its trailer gives far too much away, including even a major plot twist, so it’s possible that if you’ve seen the trailer then you won’t as much from the movie as those who haven’t, myself being luckily amongst the latter. Nerve works well as a reasonably original thriller with a great premise, and also as a cautionary tale for today’s technology-controlled youth, though I have my doubts that many of the “Look At Me”, Pokemon-chasing lot will pick up on the latter because they’ll probably be unable to sit through more than ten minutes of the movie without checking their phones [I got three particular such idiots to be thrown out of the showing I was at]. In any case, the story soon grabbed the interest of even someone like me who only has a passing interest in social media and thinks it’s genuinely dehumanising, though the heroine Vee seems too sensible a type to quickly get drawn into such a shady game as Nerve, let alone progress almost immediately from kissing strangers to more dangerous activities.
Nonetheless the movie has a fine feel of almost anarchic exuberance about it and looks fantastic too, night-time New York being fabulously shot by cinematographer Michael Simmonds, emphasising neon and fluorescent lighting so the city looks like some metropolis of the future, while lots of cool visual devices like shots from a PC and shots of the city with the player’s names and scores on top of skyscrapers seem appropriate and work very well too. Much of the pop soundtrack isn’t my kind of thing but manages to be quite diverse and certainly goes with the film, and there’s a sequence involving the crossing from one high window to the one opposite by means of a ladder which is one of the hair raising of the year. The cast all do well despite some looking far too old, and it’s all quite convincing and seems like it’s going to really go to some dark places until it partly bottles it in the final act, gives us a silly contrivance or so, and then presents us with a totally dumb, infuriating happy ending which seriously weakens the message. I can’t be the only one thoroughly sick of movies which, usually because of studio heads, don’t have the balls to properly follow through on their premise. Still, Nerve is a real fun, exciting and actually rather important film….though we’re really already there and it’ll probably seem outdated in a few years. It’s simply terrifying.