Industrious high school senior, Vee Delmonico (Emma Roberts), has had it with living life on the sidelines. When pressured by friends to join the popular online game Nerve, Vee decides to sign up for just one dare in what seems like harmless fun. But as she finds herself caught up in the thrill of the adrenaline-fueled competition partnered with a mysterious stranger named Ian (Dave Franco), the game begins to take a sinister turn with increasingly dangerous acts, leading her into a high stakes finale that will determine her entire future. (eOne Films Canada)
Now anyone who has seen any of the trailers kind of has an idea of the film’s premise which revolves mostly around a game of increasingly daring dares. This game is very popular within the film’s world where lots of people are either watching or playing. It would be hard to believe that something like this can go on for as long as it has without being stopped so if you can get over this little plot hole, then you should be fine with this film.
This film is about a high school senior named Vee Delmonico (Roberts) who has lived mostly a safe life, choosing to be on the sidelines. This has made her seem very boring in the eyes of her more outgoing friend Sydney (Emily Meade). In order to have her come out of her shell, Sydney and the rest of her friends pressure her into playing a game called Nerve. In this game, people choose to be either Watchers or Players. Players compete by attempting a series of increasingly difficult dares that are proposed by the Watchers for money. Watchers watch the Players and propose the dares which the Players attempt.
Seeing this as an opportunity to be more adventurous and take a risk, she decides to become a player, like her friend Sydney. She was thinking of doing one dare just for fun but of course it doesn’t end up that way. She gets caught up in the thrill of completing these dares and the fame she has gained and gets carried away. Things get more exciting for Vee once she meets a mysterious stranger named Ian (Franco). The two are soon forced to join forces and go on a dare spree of their own. Over this time, they form a bond as they grew closer to one another. He mainly encouraged her to be more adventurous despite her past family history.
Watching them complete all these dares was fun to watch, seeing them do different things but it does get a little repetitive. While the film focuses on Vee and Ian, there was still plenty more going on. During her rise in popularity, Vee begins to alienate her friends, especially Sydney as she begins to resent her rise which begins to challenge her status, since they can do nothing but witness her risk her life for money and fame. To demonstrate the scope of the game, the film showed many other people playing the game and completing each dare with varying results. Some of these dares ranged from the silly, which will get some laughs, to the outright dangerous. We also got a glimpse of its multitude of deranged fans who obsess over the game.
The story begins to turn for the worst as Vee’s new friend may not be who he seems when his past comes to light. This makes her question the game and this was when Vee got herself in trouble as she had to face the darker side of the game. The biggest victim of this is Vee’s mother Nancy (Juliette Lewis) since this affected hers and Vee’s bank accounts which were joined. This moment was when we got the most background on the game as it never explained how it came to be but just was. This was interesting but could have been even more interesting if it had been developed more but this could perhaps happen in another film as it leaves that possibility wide open. Vee and Ian were fun to watch because they had great chemistry. They were both very likeable, interesting characters but they could have still been fleshed out more as there were certain aspects of each character which were hinted at but never fully explored. As much as it was about them, it was about the game and the moral and ethics behind it.
The acting was better than expected here with Roberts and Franco good together and it was easy to be invested in them and their journey. Sydney was weird here by going from very unlikeable to decent on a turn of a dime. Lewis was good too as Vee’s mother Nancy but she had barely anything to do here other than being the concerned parent. The other main friend here was Miles Heizer as Vee’s friend Tommy. He was the most interesting character and was also good here and had great chemistry with Roberts.
Overall, this was a good film with a decent, albeit silly, premise with some good and likeable performances by Roberts and Franco.