By Chris Edwards, reviewing from Vue Piccadilly
Technology is terrifying. That’s the message brilliantly conveyed in Nerve, a film about a massively popular online game that has its users either gawping down at their smartphones or holding them up to use the camera. Sound familiar? It’s impossible not to draw comparisons to real life, which is all the more concerning when the characters find themselves in potentially life-threatening situations. Nerve ends up feeling like a horrifying version of Pokemon Go.
‘Nerve’ the game has two modes: Watcher and Player. Players are given dares by watchers. Once completed, money is deposited into their bank account and they advance one step closer to the winner-takes-all final. However, with each stage comes a more dangerous dare. The reward is higher, but what good is all that cash if you’ve just fallen from a 600-foot-high crane?
Stuck in the middle of it all is Vee (Emma Roberts), a reserved high school girl who’s joined the game to escape the shadow of her best friend, Sydney (Emily Meade). She soon meets Ian (Dave Franco), a player she kisses as her very first dare. Their chemistry is palpable, prompting the watchers to pair them together. But when the fun turns sinister, they face becoming prisoners of the game, with the anonymous community controlling all of their personal information by way of the internet. This also sounds worryingly familiar, doesn’t it?
Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost may have been responsible for Paranormal Activity 3 and 4, but they’ve produced something far more unnerving and entertaining here. With hordes of masked watchers chasing Vee and Ian with their cameras, it feels like a cross between Black Mirror and The Purge. It’s cynical about social media, questioning the morality of the anonymous user. Would they really dare someone to lie on a train track or drive a motorbike at 60mph while blindfolded? Probably.
Aside from its technophobic message (one scene involving a drone made me jump) and crazy stunts, it’s also enriched with incredibly fleshed-out characters. That’s down to Jessica Sharzer’s screenplay, adapted from Jeanne Ryan’s novel. Roberts and Franco are captivating while on screen, and every member of the supporting cast is believable as a high school personality. Despite youth being at its core, Nerve can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s the best technology-based film since Spike Jonze’s Her.
You’ll love this film if you love stories about technology and how it affects society.
You don’t have to see this film with a tech pro or adrenaline junkie; there’s something here for everyone.
Meet with friends before the film at coffee shop Notes at 31 Martin’s Lane. This Wi-Fi-free haven is the perfect complement to a film about the dangers of our technology-obsessed culture.
After the film, challenge your friends to a game of simulated golf while being served cocktails at Urban Golf on Great Pulteney Street.
Feel like being more adventurous? Mountain Warehouse Regent Street has all the clothing and equipment you need, and it’s right next to Vue.