Male and Female
Heart-Stopping Date Movie
It’s a game of truth or dare, minus the truth. You have a choice to be either a watcher or a player. Over the brief period of twenty-four hours, a phone app puts teens everywhere in danger through dares that are played for cash payments. In the meantime, a fan base sends in that money to watch certain players take on requested dares, specific to information picked up from their social media profiles. It is a nationwide phenomenon that is the subject of Nerve, based on the Jeanne Ryan novel, a timely piece of summer entertainment that gives teenagers what they want simultaneously with what they need.
Thank goodness this type of mobile game doesn’t exist, but thank even greater goodness that directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish, Paranormal Activity 3 and 4) made it feel as close to real as we could probably grasp it. The camera takes on a DSLR feel with its Steadicam effects and shifting in and out of focus, all made the more heart-pounding to watch with the intense, stylistic colors that make every image pop. The Rob Simonsen score compels with a pulsing synthesizer, adding to the imprisoning effect of the city skyline illuminated at night by the usernames of the game players. But the directing team’s most creative narrative technique is the unsettling effect of putting us behind the point of view of the phone screens, as if we’re the watchers communicating with the players.
Joost and Schulman similarly draw us in at the start of the movie with a wonderfully stylistic opening hook, where a teenage girl’s PC fills up the entire screen as if we were the ones running the show. The teenage girl of this story is Venus Delmonico (or Vee for short), played by Emma Roberts. She always has more social media tabs open than she can keep track of, which matches her cluttered mind that is set on leaving her mother’s home for college. The problem? She doesn’t have money to afford the dorms.
But Vee does not consider herself a risk taker—she can’t even ask a boy out on a date without her best friend volunteering to do it for her. Here is where the game “Nerve” steps into her life, offering a possibility to win hundreds upon thousands of dollars for each dare she achieves.
Her first dare: kiss a stranger. Her second dare: take him into the city. Her third dare: try on a sparkly jade dress that costs four-grand. You can figure out the pattern from here.
As the night goes on, the money is deposited into her unsuspecting mother’s checking account, a romance sparks between her and the stranger she meets from the dare, and she becomes one of the top 10 worldwide players, helping her to at last feel free and respected through her rebellion. It’s worth respecting the challenge Emma Roberts and her male colead, Dave Franco, went through to complete these dares. They work rather well together, better than most teen couples on screen, although I have to wonder, was adding a predictable love story necessary?
I would not say that the screenplay turned out one-hundred-percent bullet-proof. With a story as big as this one, half of the unnecessary subplots had either little resolution or none at all. When Vee gets a tattoo for one of her dares, she tells her newly found boyfriend about the time her brother died. It could have been a meaningful moment, except it’s never mentioned again, nor did it add anything to the story. Along with all the loose-ends and time-wasters, I also have one blaring question to ask: how did the police not know that any of this was going on? With a phenomenon as big as Nerve ruling teen culture, I feel like the police would have some involvment, but they didn’t. I don’t know how you just miss something like that.
Nonetheless, I’d be lying if I said I did not enjoy Nerve, because it delivered exactly what it promised: on-edge terror that never stops and splendidly pays off in the end. I am sure that if you are a boy or girl also obsessed with the juvenile culture of mobile gaming, then this should just as well please you.
With the way Nerve portrays countless teens willingly putting their lives in danger for the sake of money and entertainment, it’s shocking to see that a cautinary tale like this even needs to be made. If today’s teens are willing to play fart sounds in Time Square, eat dogfood, moon during a cheerleading performance, skateboard from the fender of a police car, and dangle off a construction crane, then it almost feels like nothing has changed since the 1970’s.
Yet it makes perfect sense: our social media era has made teens an easy target toward online danger. This isn’t just about online bullying, but the mobile trends that get taken way too seriously. While I personally have never been susceptible to mobile trends, other teenagers, especially ones with autism, can fall victim to these types of dangers every day.
Why, I remember just recently when I donated a sum of my own money to some random breast cancer donation fund who contacted me over the phone. It wasn’t until I told my parents about it when I realized that it was a scam. I only donated a small amount of money, and nothing harmful happened to me as a result, but if today this could happen, imagine what blatantly obvious scam an unknowing victim could fall for tomorrow? People with autism can be too caught up in their own minds to comprehend the legitimacy of a source asking for their money.
Six-Word Lessons for Autism Friendly Workplaces, Lesson #84: Autistic Employes Can Be Literal Thinkers.
It’s not just true for anybody who participates in the wrong types of activities or causes. This film argues that even those who witness the acts being done are equally as guilty (hence the distinction: Watcher vs. Player). From my experience, this claim is true.
Think about it in the case of people who watch the propaganda tapes by ISIS. Although yes, the watchers are not the ones performing the terrorist acts of this organization, they’re still just as guilty for it, as their clicks on the videos still show signs of support (which ISIS also makes money off of). Yes I know, it is a firebreathing claim to make, and you’re free to disagree with me all you want, just know that this is my own view on how the world works.
But it’s also worth stressing how people with autism may fall into accepting something without understanding the danger of it.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #66: They May Fall Under the Influence.
I have said before that people on the spectrum, myself included, don’t always know when something is legitimate, so they could begin watching something that could appear glorious to them but heinous to somebody else. For myself, I once thought for a short time that dead baby jokes were funny, until somebody else exclaimed to me how stupid I sounded. It has gotten better the older I got, but I still once in a while accept something considered morally unacceptable.
That is where Nerve proves its value. While it certainly has its flaws here and there, its overall purpose still strikes where it is most needed. Most of today’s teenagers, and people in general, have let the digital revolution use them in unthinkable ways, and not even lives put in critical danger is enough to rattle us out of the trap we snared ourselves into. I think that the fact that the police are never aware of the Nerve phenomenon in this movie proves how beneath the law’s knowledge shenanigans can get.
I don’t want this to be the future next generation’s teens to be living in, and I know you don’t want that either. So let’s work together on this for possible solutions...
- Try to take some more time away from your mobile devices. While it can be tempting to join in on all the latest fads, keep in mind that fad is just a letter away from fade. Every fad is meant to fade over time, so don’t get so worked up over them that you feel empty without them.
- If you have autism, double check on anything new to you that is asking for your money or could put you in danger. Before you say yes, do research, check in with loved ones to hear their opinions, and subscribe to sites that warn about scams.
- If you know somebody with autism, don’t be afraid to be absolutely blunt with them if they do or say something unacceptable. I still have people tell me whenever I say or do something inappropriate. It’s never fun for us autistics to hear it, but the feedback is vital.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Dee, Jake. NERVE (MOVIE REVIEW). Digital image. JoBlo. Complex, Web. <http://www.joblo.com/horror-movies/news/nerve-movie-review-115>.
Flanagan, Graham. The directors of ‘Catfish’ and ‘Nerve’ reveal how to make it in Hollywood without going to film school. Video. Business Insider. Tech Insider, 27 Jul 2016. Web. <http://www.businessinsider.com/nerve-movie-directors-filmmakers-film-school-2016-7>.
Hollywoodstreams. 'Nerve' Interview. Video. YouTube, 26 Jul 2016. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hAKuY4EoT4>.
Nerve. Publisher, Date posted. Web. <http://www.playnerve.com/>.