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Nerve is a 2016 American techno-thriller adventure film directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and written by Jessica Sharzer, based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Jeanne Ryan. The film stars Emma Roberts, Dave Franco and Juliette Lewis, and revolves around an online objective truth or dare video game, which allows people to enlist as "players" or "watchers" as the game intensifies.

Nerve 2016 poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by Allison Shearmur
Anthony Katagas
Screenplay by Jessica Sharzer
Based on Nerve
by Jeanne Ryan
Music by Rob Simonsen
Cinematography Michael Simmonds
Edited by
  • Madeleine Gavin
  • Jeff McEvoy
  • Allison Shearmur Productions
  • Keep Your Head Productions
  • Supermarche
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date
  • July 12, 2016 (2016-07-12) (SVA Theater)
  • July 27, 2016 (2016-07-27) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes[1][2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19 million[3]
Box office $85.2 million[3]

The film premiered at the SVA Theater on July 12, 2016[4] and was theatrically released on July 27, 2016, by Lionsgate. Nerve received praise for its energy and the chemistry of its cast, and grossed $85 million worldwide against its $19 million budget.[5]



High school senior Venus "Vee" Delmonico longs to leave Staten Island for college, but is afraid to tell her mother about being admitted to the California Institute of the Arts, as she is still grieving from the death of her older brother. Her friend Sydney becomes popular in Nerve: an online reality game where people either enlist online as "players" or pay to watch as "watchers". Players accept dares voted on by watchers, receiving monetary rewards, trying to become the winner of that day.

When Sydney chastises Vee's unadventurous nature, Vee signs up as a player. The game explains that all dares must be recorded on the player's phone, that earned money will be revoked if a player is knocked out by failing or bailing on a dare, and "snitches get stitches."

Vee's first dare is to kiss a stranger at a diner. Vee goes to the diner with her friend Tommy, and kisses Ian. Ian starts dancing around the diner and sings to Vee on a dare, revealing he's another player. The watchers dare Ian to take her into Manhattan. Vee accepts and rides with Ian on his motorcycle.

In Manhattan, the pair are dared to try on expensive formal attire. When their street clothes are stolen, the watchers dare them to leave the store, so they strip off the fancy clothes and flee in their undergarments. They return to Ian's motorbike, where they find the expensive clothes, paid for by the watchers.

Vee is dared to get a tattoo chosen by Ian. Ian is next dared to ride his motorbike through the city blindfolded at 60 mph, using Vee to steer his body; once completed, the two kiss. Vee and Ian soon become among Nerve's top players.

Jealous at Vee's rise of popularity, Sydney accepts a dare to walk across a ladder suspended between two buildings. Sydney bails out, getting eliminated from the game. Ian takes Vee to Sydney's party and Vee catches her making out with J.P., a boy Vee likes. After Vee and Sydney have a major argument, Tommy reveals that he was watching Ian's profile; Ian had accepted a dare to make Vee and Sydney fight. Vee realizes that game players could die and reports the game to a nearby policeman, but he doesn’t believe her. As punishment, all of the money is depleted from her family’s bank accounts. Highly ranked player Ty accepts a dare to knock her unconscious.

Vee wakes up in a metal shipping container with "snitches get stitches" on the walls. She escapes and finds Ian, who confesses that he and Ty were players whose friend was killed in a dare. When they tried to alert the authorities, their families' jobs, bank accounts, and identities were confiscated. Vee has now joined them in the secret third category of the game: "prisoners". If a prisoner can reach and win the day’s final round, they regain everything.

Vee, Tommy, and Sydney recruit Tommy's hacker friends to alter the game's online code, but it is impossible to simply shut down Nerve, as all the watchers phones act as a distributed server.

Vee and Ian earn the two spots in the final dare, which takes place at Battery Weed. The winner will be whichever one shoots the other with the handguns they’ve been given. Ian offers her the win, but when she also refuses to shoot, Ty jumps from the audience to take Ian's place. The watchers then dare Ty to kill Vee, for the win. He immediately shoots her, and she dies in Ian's arms.

Just then, Tommy and his hackers modify Nerve's source code to decrypt the watcher's code names and send them a message: "You are an accessory to murder". All watchers immediately log out, closing down the game's servers and effectively ending it. Ian aims his gun at Ty and Vee suddenly sits up, revealing that she and Ty had staged her murder to scare the watchers into disbanding Nerve. Tommy's hacker friends restores the stolen money and identities.

A few months later, Vee and Sydney have reconciled, Vee and Ian are a couple, and Vee is attending California Arts.


Canadian artist Chloe Wise and YouTube celebrity Casey Neistat, both New York City based, appear briefly as Nerve players.


Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost had previously dealt with similar themes in their documentary Catfish.[6] On their attraction to a film based around the Internet, they stated, "Most things aren’t black and white. The Internet is neither good nor bad; it just depends on how you use it",[7] giving the example that the Nerve game could be both "a really empowering game, and it’s also the most awful thing that you can possibly imagine".[7] The directors strived for a PG-13 rating, with Schulman stating "we wanted to make sure that younger teenagers could see it. We think it has an important message and they’ll dig it", with Joost adding "We weren’t interested in making a gross torture movie".[7] In trying to keep the rating down, the directors axed a "sex dare" that "was ultimately just too dark and weird".[7] The film has also a lighter ending and theme than the book, as the novel deals with a much darker plot and ending. The team stated that the fast-changing nature of the Internet made it a tough subject to make a narrative feature about, with Joost noting that the app Periscope came out during the film development, which Joost called "like half-way to being Nerve".[6]

In January 2015, it was announced that Emma Roberts and Dave Franco were set to star in the film.[8] In April 2015, it was announced that Kimiko Glenn had joined the cast of the film, portraying the role of Emma Roberts' character's worried friend.[9] The same day, it was announced that rapper Colson "Machine Gun Kelly" Baker had also joined the cast.[10]


Principal photography on the film began in 2015, in New York City.[11][12] Production on the film concluded on June 5, 2015.[13][14]


The film premiered at the School of Visual Arts in New York City on July 12, where the cast attended.[4] It was also screened on July 21 at Comic-Con.[15] The film was originally scheduled for September 16, 2016, but was eventually theatrically released on July 27, 2016.[16]


Box officeEdit

Nerve grossed $38.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $46.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $85.2 million, against a budget of $19 million.[3]

The film was projected to gross around $10 million in its opening weekend and $15 million over its first five days from 2,538 theaters.[17] The film grossed $3.7 million on its opening day[18] and ended up finishing 8th at the box office in its opening weekend, grossing $9.4 million (a five-day total of $15.5 million).[19]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 133 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Nerve's fast pace and charming leads help overcome a number of fundamental flaws, adding up to a teen-friendly thriller with enough energy to occasionally offset its muddled execution."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[21] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[19]

Scott Tobias of Uproxx wrote, "Though the ending surrenders to a tsk-tsk-ing morality play that turns on the mob the game (and the film) has so smartly orchestrated, Nerve is the rare virtual thriller that understands how social media actually works and the addictive little subcultures that can spin out of it."[22] Dave Palmer of The Reel Deal gave the film 7/10, saying, "It is a lot of fun, and not even in a turn-your-brain off kind of way. The film actually has some smart things to say about teenagers, their phones and what people will do to get internet famous and it is all delivered in a colorful little package."[23]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s).
People's Choice Awards January 18, 2017 Favorite Thriller Movie Nerve Nominated [24]


  1. ^ "Nerve (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 18, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Nerve". Lionsgate. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "Nerve (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "'Nerve' premieres in New York City (NYC) - Photos". United Press International. July 13, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Jason Bourne Thrills but Lacks Identity". July 28, 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Puchko, Kristy. "Nerve Directors On Technology Advancements & Future Projects". Screenrant. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d Bell, Crystal. "NERVE DIRECTORS REVEAL THE VOYEURISTIC DARE THAT WAS TOO 'GROSS' FOR PG-13". MTV. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 27, 2015). "Dave Franco and Emma Roberts to Star in YA Thriller 'Nerve'". Variety. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  9. ^ Pederson, Erik (April 17, 2015). "'Married's Kimiko Glenn Joins 'Nerve'; Kino Lorber Acquires 'Gueros'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  10. ^ Halperin, Shirley (April 17, 2015). "Machine Gun Kelly Joins Emma Roberts, Dave Franco In 'Nerve'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Emma Roberts and Dave Franco begin filming 'Nerve' in NYC on April 13". March 31, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Emma Roberts and Dave Franco spotted filming 'Nerve' in NYC". April 18, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  13. ^ Joost, Henry (June 5, 2015). "Last day shooting #NerveNYC 😢 #davefranco #denim #triplets 📷 by @orleeroses". Instagram. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  14. ^ "On the Set for 6/15/15: Martin Scorsese Starts Shooting "Free Fire", Matthew McConaughey Finishes "Free State of Jones" & More". June 15, 2015. Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Emma Roberts-Dave Franco Thriller 'Nerve' To Sneak At Comic-Con". Deadline Hollywood. July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 18, 2016. 
  16. ^ Busch, Anita (May 10, 2016). "Lionsgate Moves YA Title 'Nerve' Into Summer, Schedules 'The Woods'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 10, 2016. 
  17. ^ "'Jason Bourne' Should Lead Box Office, But Not Ladies Looking For 'Bad Moms' & 'Nerve' – B.O. MGK made $3 million for his role in Nerve Preview". Deadline Hollywood. 
  18. ^ "'Nerve' Box Office Starts With $1M In Tuesday Previews". Deadline Hollywood. July 27, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Brevet, Brad (July 31, 2016). "'Jason Bourne' Tops Weekend with $60M; 'Star Trek Beyond' Suffers Big Second Weekend Drop". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 31, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Nerve (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 29, 2018. 
  21. ^ "Nerve reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 26, 2016. 
  22. ^ "'Nerve' Finds The Creators Of 'Catfish' Crafting A Social Media-Savvy Cyberthriller". Uproxx. July 26, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2016. 
  23. ^ "'Nerve' Colorful, Manic Summer Fun". 
  24. ^ Hipes, Patrick (November 15, 2016). "People's Choice Awards Nominees Set". Deadline Hollywood. 

External linksEdit