Did you know that were only using ten percent of what’s on the World Wide Web? You may think that sites like YouTube, Wikipedia, and even most of the social media platforms have already made the internet huge, but it turns out that we know next to nothing. There is a section of the web called the dark web that is home to the other ninety percent. This area supposedly contains illegal pornography, weapon shops, salve shops, and pretty much everything that were not allowed to see in real life. It’s said that the only ones that see this are highly experience hackers, top tier government officials, or radical groups that can crack those complicated firewalls.
There have been some instances where the dark web has crept over to the side of humanity, but given how well guarded the regular pages already are, it’s incredibly rare and they never last long. What makes it hard to go over anything on the dark web is that the people who created these things have covered their tracks so well, that the FBI and homeland security can barley locate their perpetrator let alone who they are. The game in Nerve comes from a dark source, but has been making it’s way around teenagers.
Around the Statin Island area of New York, high school yearbook photographer Venus Delmonico (played by Emma Roberts) is in the mist of finishing her last few months and is ready to accept an admission to Cal Arts, but is afraid to tell her mother (played by Juliette Lewis) who is still grieving over the death of her son. Her friend Sydney (played by Emily Meade) is a big player of the online game Nerve, which is a dangerous “Truth or Dare” challenge where watchers pay to watch and players play to earn money.
After a humiliating rejection from a guy she likes, Venus signs into Nerve as a player, where it collects everything about her (bank statements, I.D., social media pages, etc.…). After her first challenge to kiss a stranger for five seconds, she starts to team up with that kisser Ian (played by Dave Franco) for bigger money. As the cash becomes bigger and her following grows, the game starts to tread into illegal territory, causing Venus to want out. When she tries to alert the authorities (which was one rule not to do), she finds that the game has more control over her life then she realized. Now she has to continue playing while her friends try to get the game shut down.
I’ve made complaints before that movies set now rarely know how to use modern technology in a way that will hold up later. Nerve understands that teens are obsessed with the web and often get lost in they’re own pleasure against the common moral of right and wrong. Nerve manages to carry an interesting premise, even if it’s afraid to go further with what could have made it more psychological. It at least makes a lot of the dares interesting.
Both Emma Roberts and Dave Franco have good chemistry and are fun to watch. The writing for them seems to work with the personalities of the actors rather then their characters. That kind of screenwriting is old fashioned, ironically in a movie that’s supposed to be “hip” and “with it”. I’m okay with it here as they are still interesting to follow as the game gets more dangerous. One major issue I had involves the ending which I wont spoil, but it will make you feel unfulfilled. A lot of that comes from that we don’t get much behind the game and who made it. Perhaps a television spinoff would explain everything.
I’ll give this four game over screens out of five. Though you know this movie could have done a lot more with it’s idea, it still manages to entertain and even have some smart ideas. Nerve probably won’t gain any major players, but should have no problem finding watchers. So are you a player or a watcher?