Thrilling, immersive and fast-paced.
NERVE is a teen thriller film titled with the social media game which brought the leads Venus (played by Emma Roberts) and Ian (played by Dave Franco) together. From kissing a stranger to blindfolded motorcycle speeding and one-hand hang from a crane, Nerve challenged players to daredevil stunts in exchange for money. Little did Venus realised that her impulse to prove her best friend Sydney (played by Emily Meade) wrong became a fall to becoming the game’s prisoner.
Initially, it was a little awkward to watch Roberts and Franco pass off as teens. However, their dynamism and charisma in the film succeeded to avert my attention away from that. I particularly enjoyed squirming in my seat as the players went about completing their dares. The highlight of the film was probably the blindfolded motorcycle speeding. The scene may seem cliché with typical close-shave moments to heighten the tension. However, the sheer thought of the dare just got me cringing in fear for the couple. Unrealistic, of course, but the cheap thrill was present.
Many reviews criticized the movie for being too senseless as Nerve app would be something modern smartphone users easily dismiss without much engagement. Truthfully, it is no surprise as many of these life-threatening dares are simply too risky and not worth the bet. Therefore, the central idea of the film may not be appealing. As the plot progresses, I thought it seemed like a Hunger Games spin-off in the 21st century of digital media.
While the film may have advocated about loss of privacy, the dangers of social media exposure and digital vigilance in an extreme context, it is certainly thought-provoking for social media frequent users, like me. In the final round of Nerve, it became apparent that the game was greatly popularised and dictated by the watchers, anonymous watchers who probe and control the players by setting their challenges. This anonymity empowered individuals from different walks of life to dictate, yet hold no responsibility for any consequences. As in Nerve, watchers are never held responsible for failures to complete the dates, failures which refer to a range of physical injuries to deaths.
I see parallels in social media posting and commenting. In fact, many celebrities of different nationalities have raised “anonymity” as a key factor of cyber-bullying and rampant verbal attacks on them. Netizens probably enjoy greater safety and comfort to spread malicious rumours while hiding behind a virtual facade. This is not a make-believe phenomenon in today’s world.
Perhaps watching the movie from this perspective would one find it more relatable and enable the audience to reflect on one’s cyber behaviours. Perhaps if stripped of this anonymity, social media users feel more self-conscious, restrained, and thus step away from dictating others. Perhaps this movie may have stemmed from these notions to create Nerve app. And these may just be what the movie is reflecting about what is happening in our world.
Catch Nerve in theatres from 11th Aug.