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Review: Nerve

A combination of my local cinema having a ‘Bargain Monday’ event and my last review hitting the number one slot on Google News has led me to make another foray to the flicks and give Nerve a chance.

To be honest I thought the premise of the film was completely daft, although the trailer was encouraging and so I stayed to watch it.

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Emma Roberts and Dave Franco as Vee and Ian

Nerve stars Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, and is directed by duo Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, whose most notable films have been Paranormal Activity 3 and Paranormal Activity 4. The premise of Nerve is that teenagers compete in an online game of truth or dare, sending them to various locations to pull off yet more dangerous dares.

Like me you could be forgiven for thinking that the premise was stupid, but do not dismiss the film because of it. The performances were all very good: even encouraging me to care about two teenagers partaking in borderline suicidal activities and for the character of Vee, played by Emma Roberts. I completely understood why she would undertake her dares and felt empathy for her. Compared to other films this summer, that’s quite an achievement!

The film had a visual style and a choice of music that reminded me very much of Drive, one of my all-time favourite films. Its cinematography was filled with neon colours and the music had a house dance vibe to it, building a suitable atmosphere for the world we were in.

The film came out at the perfect time, following the Pokémon Go obsession, making the story quite believable. In our world, where people walk into the sea to catch invisible monsters, the film’s portrayal of daredevils hanging off of cranes does not seem that mad.

Nerve tackles themes of peer pressure and social media very well, and it all comes together to make the film seem much more credible than you might expect. The action, too, is surprisingly tense, be it racing through the streets blindfolded or walking across a ladder suspended between windows, it keeps up the great visual style the film shows throughout.

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Hooded figure in the background, check.

Disappointingly the film’s ending is possibly the worst I have seen in cinemas this year. Without spoiling too much, I can say that there are absolutely no consequences for anyone. It left me confused and enraged beyond measure. The beginning of the film could also have done with setting up supporting characters and with a runtime of just over an hour and a half there was space for this to be added.

This is the closest I have been to giving a three star film a four star rating, however the ending just left me grumpy. Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe you don’t understand the art. Maybe I’m giving the film too much credit by calling it art. Anyway it gets three stars.

★★★☆☆