Sunday, 23 October 2016

Nerve by Sharzer and Ryan

Nerve gets off to a somewhat wobbly start thanks to its Poochie-esque attempt to be down with the kids. 

At first it’s all computer screens, in the manner of Unfriended or Friend Request, though perhaps with less justification, and pop songs. Tedious, terrible pop songs.

Most of these excesses soon settle down, though the inferior music continues unabated throughout. However… the film itself is actually cleverly plotted and gripping. 

It concerns the eponymous game, which is sort of a truth-or-dare. Though this computer version solely consists of the dares.

I really like the fact that Nerve is contained and small scale, set around Staten Island and New York City, and what is genuinely terrific is the way they smoothly scale up the dares to a dangerous level. 

What begins with kissing a stranger in a diner rapidly escalates to riding a motorcycle with a blindfolded driver at 60mph. 

It's a nice script by Jessica Sharzer, who has written extensively for the TV series American Horror Story. I was intrigued to see that it was based on a novel by Jeanne Ryan

I haven't read the book, but it's perceived purely as young adult fiction in the classic mould, with an isolated teen female protagonist narrating in the first person.

Personally, I saw it as a taut, clever high-concept computer thriller, a kind of descendent of 1997's The Game.  

And it's genuinely, deeply, nail-bitingly suspensful. But then I don't like heights...  (I was amused that the parental advisory at the beginning of the movie warning that it depicts "imitable behaviour". I don't plan to imitate it any time soon.)

It also features lovely colour cinematography by Michael Simmonds.

The cast is led by Emma Roberts playing Vee (for Venus), the classic isolated teen female protagonist. Though she's only isolated for about five minutes. Interestingly Roberts also starred in American Horror Story.

If you see Nerve, be sure and stay for the end titles, which are beautifully designed.

(Image credits: a large selection of posters at Imp Awards, though the "streaking" one is a bit misleading.) 

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