While many films stand the test of time, others fade into obscurity. Whether this happens over a period of years or almost instantly upon a film’s release, each of these titles have slipped through the cracks of our collective memory to join the ranks of the Films That Time Forgot.
In retrospect, it’s not overly surprising that Nerve has largely been forgotten. It didn’t make much of a splash at the time of its release, and mixed reviews killed any momentum it may have gained. However, with a handful of recognizable stars and an intriguing if familiar premise, Nerve always had obvious potential that remains intact years later.
Following Vee (Emma Roberts) as she joins an online dare community, Nerve sees groups of teens engaging with the dangerous viral game. Teaming up with fellow player Ian (Dave Franco), Vee is forced to compete with other players to become the most popular and most-watched Nerve user while taking part in increasingly dangerous stunts streamed live for cash prizes. Alongside Roberts and Franco, Colson Baker (a.k.a. Machine Gun Kelly), Juliette Lewis, Miles Heizer, and Emily Meade all appear to round out Nerve‘s cast.
As with any film based around modern technology, Nerve ran the risk of becoming incredibly outdated incredibly quickly. However, the focus of the story on the viral nature of the game and the willingness of its characters to risk their lives in pursuit of fame and fortune remains relevant, which certainly goes in Nerve‘s favor. Nerve makes use of the same tropes as other similar movies by hinging itself on particular social media platforms, which will undoubtedly date the film considerably, but the focus lies elsewhere, and its story is still solid.
Nerve employs tried-and-tested thriller tactics to engage its audience, and generally speaking, this works. Vee is reasonably compelling as a character, and combined with Ian’s charisma, Nerve is an easy film to get swept up in. The overuse of nonsensical technical jargon does detract from the film’s overall atmosphere considerably, but its necessary to prevent its premise from falling apart. The use of the clichéd hacker trope is one of its weaker points, but thankfully its played down as much as possible.
Generally speaking, Nerve features sound performances from its main cast that carry its engaging but unoriginal story. Nerve is a movie built largely on established tropes and clichés, and though it makes this work, it doesn’t make for anything more than an average movie. However, Nerve‘s deeper message is well-crafted, and the fact that it seems particularly prescient after the rise of new social media platforms earns the film some additional points for its social commentary.
Despite the nature of its premise indicating otherwise, Nerve has already aged reasonably well. Whether it will continue to do so remains to be seen, but its examination of the power of social media and how harmful viral trends can spin out of control makes it seem particularly relevant even years after its release. The darkness of New York lit by Nerve‘s neon visuals contribute to the film’s attempt at a unique identity, and on a superficial level, this works. It’s far from a perfect movie, but it’s interesting: it’s unoriginal, but it’s a competent examination of a facet of modern society brought to life by sound performances, so it’s still worth a watch.
Summary: Nerve may not have anything new to say, but it says something familiar with a new and reasonably competent voice. It’s not innovative in any considerable sense of the word, but it’s generally enjoyable despite its more predictable elements.
Highlights: Nerve makes use of a certain shock factor, but its how eerily prescient the film is that holds up best.