Nerve (2016 film)
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 online game, which allows people to enlist as "players" or "watchers" and as the game progresses further, the players are contacted and invited to participate in more dangerous and risky dares than their prior ones.
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Allison Shearmur|
|Written by||Jessica Sharzer|
by Jeanne Ryan
|Music by||Rob Simonsen|
|Box office||$85.3 million|
The film premiered at the SVA Theater on July 12, 2016 and was theatrically released on July 27, 2016, by Lionsgate. Nerve received praise for its energy and the chemistry of its cast, and grossed over $85 million worldwide against a $19 million budget.
High school senior Venus "Vee" Delmonico longs to leave Staten Island for college, but is avoiding telling her mother as they are still mourning the death of her older brother. Her friend Sydney becomes popular in Nerve: an online reality game of truth and dare, but without the truth element - where people either enlist as "players" or register to watch as "watchers". Players accept dares as they're invited by watchers and receive monetary rewards if they successfully complete those dares. Watchers in turn pay to spectate as the players attempt their challenges.
Sydney chastises Vee's unadventurous nature so Vee signs up as a player. There are three basic rules: all dares must be recorded on the player's phone, earned money will be revoked if a player fails or bails on a dare, and that "snitches get stitches."
Vee's first dare is to kiss a stranger at a diner. Choosing to kiss Ian, she completes her dare, to which Ian dances and sings to Vee, revealing he's another player on a dare. The next challenge requires Ian to take Vee to Manhattan on his motorcycle. There, they are given another task, wherein they are dared to try on expensive formal attire. Their street clothes are stolen and the watchers dare them to leave the store. Unwilling to be caught stealing, they flee in their undergarments. They return to Ian's motorbike where they find the expensive clothes, which have been paid for by an unknown benefactor, obviously using one of their parents' debit cards or credit cards .
Vee is dared to get a tattoo chosen by Ian, and Ian is then 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 become among Nerve's top players.
Jealous of Vee's popularity, Sydney accepts a dare at a party to cross a ladder between two buildings. Sydney bails and is eliminated from the game. Vee catches Sydney making out with J.P., a boy Vee likes, and the two have a major argument. Tommy reveals that he was watching Ian's profile; Ian had accepted a request to make Vee and Sydney fight. Vee receives a dare to complete Sydneys dare for $15,000. Vee accepts and completes the dare. Realizing that game players could die, she reports the game to a policeman but he doesn’t believe her. Having broken the third rule requiring that snitches get stitches, all the money in her family’s bank accounts vanish. Highly ranked player Ty accepts a dare to knock her unconscious.
Vee wakes up in a shipping container with "snitches get stitches" on the walls. She escapes and is found by Ian, who confesses that he and Ty played Nerve in Seattle. They "bailed" on a dare. Another player, Rodney, died trying to complete the dare. Ty and Ian reported Nerve to the police, who don't believe them and ruled Rodney's death an accident. Labeled as "Snitches", Ty and Ian become "Prisoners" of the game. As punishment, their identities are stolen. 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 and Ian earn the two spots in the final dare, which takes place at Battery Weed. The winner will be whoever 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 and shoots her, and she "dies" in Ian's arms.
Suddenly, Tommy and his hackers modify Nerve's source code to decrypt the watcher's code names and send them all a message: "You are an accessory to murder", accompanied by each watcher's real name. All the audience members immediately log out, closing down the game's servers and effectively ending it. Ian aims his gun at Ty, but Vee reveals that she and Ty had staged her murder to scare the watchers into disbanding Nerve. Ty explains the weapon was loaded with blanks and he was, really, conspiring with the hackers. Tommy's hacker friends restore the stolen money and identities.
After Nerve has been shut down by the hackers Ian reveals to Vee his real name is Sam. Sydney and Vee have reconciled, Vee and Ian/Sam are a couple and Vee is attending CalArts.
- Emma Roberts as Vee, a player of Nerve.
- Dave Franco as Ian / Sam, Vee's fellow player.
- Emily Meade as Sydney, one of Vee's friends.
- Miles Heizer as Tommy, one of Vee's friends who has an unrequited crush on her.
- Juliette Lewis as Nancy, Vee's mother.
- Kimiko Glenn as Liv, one of Vee's friends.
- Marc John Jefferies as Wes
- Colson Baker as Ty, Vee's main opponent in the game.
- Brian Marc as J.P.
- Ed Squires as Chuck
- Samira Wiley as Hacker Kween, one of Tommy’s hacker friends.
- Casey Neistat as himself, another player.
- Chloe Wise as herself, another player.
Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost had previously dealt with similar themes in their documentary Catfish. 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", 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". 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". In trying to keep the rating down, the directors axed a "sex dare" that "was ultimately just too dark and weird". 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".
In January 2015, it was announced that Emma Roberts and Dave Franco were set to star in the film. 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. The same day, it was announced that rapper Colson "Machine Gun Kelly" Baker had also joined the cast.
The film premiered at the School of Visual Arts in New York City on July 12, where the cast attended. It was also screened on July 21 at Comic-Con. The film was originally scheduled for September 16, 2016, but was eventually theatrically released on July 27, 2016.
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.
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. The film grossed $3.7 million on its opening day 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).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 67% based on 138 reviews, with an average rating of 5.78/10. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
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." 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."
Nerve has been mentioned in relation to the real-life dare game called Blue Whale Challenge, which attracted media attention starting from 2016 and shares some similarities with what's depicted in the film.
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