Thursday, July 14, 2016

Movie Review: NERVE (2016)

When I first got the invite to go check out a screening of Nerve, I was pumped.  I really dug the trailers that I had seen and the premise sounded really cool.  Plus, I love Dave Franco as an actor, so that was an added bonus.  I wasn't really sure what to expect from this film because it seemed like one of those that would either be really entertaining, or really disappointing, and luckily for me it was the former.

Nerve is based on the 2012 novel of the same name and follows a shy, introverted high school senior named Venus "Vee" Delmonico (Emma Roberts) who decides to take her life into her own hands and signs up to play a new online reality game called "Nerve", described as being "like truth or dare, but without the truth".  In the game people enlist online as "players" or pay to watch as "watchers".  As Vee completes her dares she winds up teamed with with mysterious fellow player Ian (Dave Franco), and the two get caught up in some potentially deadly dares.  But all isn't what it seems as the games takes control of their identities, forcing them to play whether they want to or not.

The team of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, best known for directing Paranormal Activity 3 & 4, take on directing duties for this film, and I have to say they did a great job.  I loved the fast paced energy that encompassed this film, and also the choice to utilize both traditional filming techniques and filming from the characters' phones POV, which really allowed the audience to feel like they were a "Watcher" of Nerve (the game) and not just the movie.  The cinematography and use of vibrant colors on top of dark backgrounds really stood out to me as well.  I can't wait to see what these two do next.

Throughout the entire film, I was either enthralled in the story, laughing at the smart, witty humor, or on the edge of my seat from the intense thrills.  Never once was I even remotely bored while watching Nerve, and that made for a wonderful experience.  This film, as I said, has a great look, but that isn't what makes this movie so good.  The performances from the two leads were great and their chemistry together was absolutely believable, something you don't always see in films like this (*cough* In Time *cough*).  Dave Franco plays Ian, a bad boy with a sorted past, who gets roped in to playing this game with Vee.  He has become one of my favorite up-and-coming actors, and was one of the best parts of the Now You See Me films.  I first was introduced to him on the final season of the medical sitcom Scrubs, and I hated his character.  Then when he was in Neighbors and Now You See Me, I really began to enjoy him as an actor.  But now, anytime I see his name pop up in a film, I'm instantly intrigued.  And I can't forget about Ms. Emma Roberts.  I tend to associate her as playing the "bitchy" character, as I'm most familiar with her roles in American Horror Story: Coven and Scream Queens, in both of which she plays a stuck up, spoiled socialite.  But this role is the exact opposite of those, and it was great to see her play that other side.  It gave me a newfound respect for her as an actress, and I hope to see her expand her range even more.

One of the things I really enjoyed in this film was how the dares got progressively more wild, from kissing a stranger for five seconds, to driving 60 mph blindfolded.  The directors continuously ramped up the intensity, scene after scene, but never made it too unbelievable.  Everything they did was something that could, theoretically, be done, even if it did require a tiny bit of movie luck to pull off.  There were a few clich├ęd parts in this film, as are in most, but to be honest, none of them ever took me out of the movie, and to me that's what really matters.  This is a film that I will definitely be watching again, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good, fast paced time at the theater.

The Merc's Score: 8/10

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