Nerve movie poster

For a good chunk of its tidy 96 minutes, Nerve is a brisk, clever take on Generation Smartphone. (What fun to see stars Dave Franco and Emma Roberts dashing out of Bergdorf-Goodman’s in their skivvies, tricked out of everything else but still clutching their precious, self-affirming technology.) The story concerns an overly cautious high school senior who gets goaded into busting out by logging in to an online game where watchers dare players to do stuff, and players win money and build an audience. (The latter is the real currency: during especially wild dares, hearts of approval bubble up across the screen like a Champagne fizz of effervescent dopamine.) But as her time in the game helps her forge one friendship and strain another (Emily Meade’s poor little rich girl can pout with the best of them), it becomes clear that — quelle surprise — this sort of internet interfacing can have serious consequences IRL. If it collapses in the end by going dark and also bonkers and bringing in hackers ex machina to clean up its mess, well, directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost can say they did it for the feels. 2016.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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