Vee is a young woman who lives life safely. Her friend Sydney pushes her to take a risk. And so she joins an online game called Nerve. In Nerve, there are people who pay to watch, people who pay to play…and the unknown overseers. In the game, participants are given dares and they must complete each one to make it to the end and make a lot of money. At the start, the dares seem to simply push people out of their comfort zones. As you complete a task, money is added to your bank account. If you fail or chicken out, you are dropped from the game.
Vee soon finds herself paired up with another player, Ian. But as the game progresses, the dares get riskier and more deadly. Ultimately, Vee finds herself trying to survive the game and save her family.
The film has one of those “You are all Complicit” story-lines, chastising the viewer’s online voyeurism. And there is nothing wrong with that…but the execution here is just clumsy, and Roberts does not really sell this.
The film uses the popular visual of pop-up windows mimicking social media news feeds. This is somewhat tired, but I understand why movies themed around the internet use them.
The visual style of the film is garish colors, blues and greens especially. The film ultimately comes apart because it simply because the concept feels implausible. The idea that this internet game show that can result in regular deaths is super popular and well known, but allowed to function is hard to buy. Not because the masses cannot be cruel…but it just feels hard to buy this is a game that has the blessing of the authorities.
Nerve has some lofty ambitions as a thriller, but it never is able to make you really care about these characters. It generates, ironically enough, the very complacency it condemns.