The Cell Phone Game – Nerve (2016)

Let’s try not to let this happen in real life.  So Nerve is essentially an online social game that is truth or dare without the truth, and the incentive for playing is cash prizes.  A shy young girl (Emma Roberts) gets roped into playing, and it isn’t long that she is stuck in a series of escalating dares a la Arrested Development.  I thought the premise to this sounded intriguing enough; I was a fan of the sleeper 2008 movie Gamer, and this sounded to be similar, or at least to exist in the same universe.  I don’t think it is as good, personally (even though I do recognize that Gamer is a guilty pleasure), but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get enjoyment out of this, at the very least from a voyeuristic standpoint.

2There is commentary to be made about the state of social media nowadays, but I’m not the guy to make it.

The thing about Nerve is that this is actually a YA movie in disguise.  It’s based on a novel (naturally), and even in the setting of a different genre in a thriller, it still manages to piece together a love triangle, because it is a mandatory staple of this type of material.  Is it better than Twilight?  Most definitely and without a doubt, but the trappings that you would expect to find are featured here as well.  The one thing that makes this movie work is how quickly it is paced.  If it moved any slower, this would fall apart at the seams, because then you would stop to ask questions like “who put this all together?” and “who is paying for all of this?”  Even as fast as it moves, those questions still pop up in your brain if you just stop and take one step back, but some pretty slick editing makes it easy to not pay too much attention to, and if it wasn’t there, the logic that this entire game is built on would draw so much attention to itself that it would crumble like a cookie.

1But hey, we’ve got the prettiest of pretty people, so who cares?

This movie is silly, but it is not without its entertainment value.  There is a modern day hipster soundtrack, and it all flows with a kinetic fluency.  You do have the blur your eyes in order not to notice some of the dumber plot points, but it is well enough put together where that is never really a problem.  If you approach this with tethered expectations, you will probably be able to enjoy yourself watching this, but it is nothing that you really need to rush out to see.

Nerve (2016) ***

– Critic for Hire


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