Nerve (2016) [Review]

After much anticipation, I finally got around to watching Nerve, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. After what I expected would be a cheesy ‘action’ with not-much-action, I was quite pleasantly surprised.

Emma Roberts and Dave Franco worked well together in this film, which entered into the ‘dark web’, the other 90% of the web that is unknown and inaccessible by regular search engines.

At the beginning, it seemed as though it was going to be a corny coming-of-age film – which, I’m not going to lie, is my guilty pleasure genre – with Emma Roberts playing Vee, a near college student who wants to escape from her hometown to pursue what she wants in life,  but is being held back by the burden of family needs, the condescending ‘advice’ from her popular best friend and rejection from a high school crush. That is until of course, she has a breaking point and does something risky – joins an illegal and dangerous game after pressure from her peers.

What’s striking with this film is that it still follows traditional coming-of-age tropes, but also is made to be modern and fit for contemporary audiences. There are multiple themes embedded throughout this film, and while personal progression and self discovery is not THE most obvious, the dangers of technology and the anonymity of cyber space were and are very relevant in this day and age.

Praise to the entire production team, directing and editing in particular. The approach taken by the editors, Jeff McEvoy and Madeleine Gavin, in embedding technology and social media into film was smooth, coherent and creative. It is often interesting to see how social media is expressed in film, but McEvoy and Gavin hit the nail on the head and made it a little bit funky and enticing.


I feel like the soundtrack was pretty spot on when considering target audience for this film. The music was very pop, modern, and many of the songs were easily recognisable. Though it is one thing to use songs that can be recognised by the Target audience, it is also vital that the soundtrack matches the feel of the film. In my opinion, most, if not all, of the soundtrack was fitting to what was happening on screen – the fast paced techno to emote thrill seeking, the slowed down romanticised music for the tenderness between Vee and Ian, and the spacey pop showing euphoria and escape.

The downfall of the film would have to be the display of Vee’s relationship with her mother. While it is briefly touched upon in the beginning of the film, not much is to be said until the end of the film, which even then I feel as though the performance of a concerned mother was not entirely expressed. I’d believe that the mother would be more erratic than she was shown to be if her daughter was in an illegal, life threatening game (why was she so calm in trusting Vee’s teenage friends with the wellbeing of her daughter?).

Overall, I believe the film has successfully reached its target audience (being early to mid teens) and it conveys the underlying themes and messages by hacking (no pun intended) into the technological subconscious of  young adult audiences. However, seeing the family relationship development perhaps would have been more moving than that of a friendship.

Screencaps sourced from – as I am currently overseas, I am unable to get my own screen caps.


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