Review: NERVE (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review: NERVE (2016)

Review: NERVE (2016)

When high school senior Venus "Vee" Delmonico (Emma Roberts) impetuously signs up to be a "player" in a popular interactive online game known as "Nerve", her first dare is to kiss a random stranger. The stranger that she ends up kissing with is Ian (Dave Franco), who turns out to be a player as well. Soon, both of them embark on a nightlong journey as they overcome a series of dares that grows more challenging and dangerous.

REVIEW: Six years after Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman exploring the dark side of social networking site in CATFISH, the directing duo returns to the same genre territory in NERVE. Except this time, it's a cautionary tale about the consequences of playing an interactive online game. And coincidentally enough, NERVE arrives just in time when Pokémon GO is currently the most talked-about online game of the moment. Whereas the phenomenally popular Pokémon GO encourages the player to travel through real locations to search and "catch" the virtual Pokémon, Joost and Schulman's high-concept premise is also fundamentally similar except with a significant difference: NERVE is more like an interactive online version of Truth or Dare.

But NERVE is more than just a straightforward techno-thriller. Adapted from Jeanne Ryan's novel of the same name by Jessica Sharzer, part of the movie's charm lies in the casting of Emma Roberts and Dave Franco. Although both of them look somewhat old to play high-school teenagers, they are both likeable enough to make their roles worthwhile. As a couple, they share a wonderful chemistry together. Whether they try sneaking out of the mall half-naked or riding a motorcycle with one of them blindfolded, it's fun watching them going through all the dares.

Technically speaking, NERVE is a visual treat. Michael Simmonds' nighttime cinematography around the New York City is particularly eye-catching with all the neon glows in the background. Joost and Schulman are also nifty with their creative choices of camerawork such as the one where the protagonist's face is seen from the perspective of a LED smartphone screen. The soundtrack that plays a cool choice of EDM and pop selections such as Basenji's "Can't Get Enough", MØ's "Kamikaze" and BØRNS' "Electric Love", are equally top-notch.

However, what keeps this movie from reaching to its fullest potential is Joost and Schulman's subdued approach on their high-concept premise. They could have let loose a little more in terms of cranking up the level of fun and excitement. NERVE is also stumbled with a lack of satisfying conclusion. By the time the movie gets down to the business when one of the players broke the rule of the game, the so-called "stake" is disappointingly tame. It's like as if Joost and Schulman are too afraid to push the boundaries of the PG-13 rating. As a result, the ending feels anticlimactic.

If you can forgive some of the flaws, NERVE remains entertaining enough for what it is.

Thanks to the timely mix of Pokémon GO-like interactive online approach alongside the attractive pairing of Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, NERVE is an entertaining, if flawed teen-centric techno-thriller.

* This review is written courtesy from TGV press screening *

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