Emma Roberts lives with single mother Juliette Lewis, and gets hooked on a popular online game called Nerve. It’s a dare-based game where you can either bet someone to take a dare or take a dare on yourself and win lots of cash. On one of these dares Roberts meets slightly older Dave Franco, who has played Nerve before and before long they’re pretty tight, despite essentially being competitors. After a while though, the game starts to get a little too intense (i.e. Life threatening) and Roberts even starts questioning whether Franco can be trusted. Emily Meade and Kimiko Glenn play a couple of Roberts’ friends, Miles Heizer plays Roberts’ protective hacker pal, whilst Samira Wiley plays a character called Hacker Kween, and Machine Gun Kelly also attempts to act playing a rival player.
I’m the absolute wrong person for this 2016 flick from directors Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman (the truly abysmal “Paranormal Activity 3”), but you’re getting my opinion anyway for whatever it is or isn’t worth. Based on a novel I’ve never heard of, and scripted by Jessica Sharzer (who wrote 8 episodes of “American Horror Story”), it took me less than a minute to be frightfully worried that I was in store for a techno-thriller even worse than the same year’s pathetic “Ratter”. Well, it’s probably slightly better but only just but after 10 minutes I was convinced that no one involved in the making of this film had any idea how Facebook actually works, reminding me of yet another stupid techno-thriller, “Unfriended”. Yeah…this was a really miserable experience for me, folks and not just because it contains two of my all-time least favourite actors: Emma Roberts and Juliette Lewis, playing mother and daughter no less.
The idea of a film based on a dare-centred web game seemed idiotic right off the bat to me, and nothing over the next 90 minutes or so changed my view. I could see how something like this could in theory prove dangerously popular with kids, but I just personally find it so incredibly dumb in principle and unlikely in execution here so that it never had me hooked. If the idea of the game causing its users to become the server themselves is actually possible (I’m not especially tech-savvy), I didn’t believe it to be the case as demonstrated in this film. At the very least it sounds ridiculously unlikely to me, as does the entire film. The whole thing is so idiotic and unconvincing, and the actresses playing teenagers here are seriously bordering on Gabrielle Carteris on “90210”. Emma Roberts is 26 and looks it, Kimiko Glenn from “Orange is the New Black” is very clearly in her late 20s (28 in fact), and we even get Glenn’s co-star Samira Wiley turning up as an acquaintance of Roberts’ computer geek pal (who, because this film is confusing, I thought was Roberts’ younger brother), and there’s no way on Earth they’re even close to being around the same age. Why was she here and why was she talking to a high school dork who looks way younger than any of the other actors playing high schoolers here? I’m a bit fuzzy on the specifics of all that to be honest, as I don’t think narrative coherence is the film’s strong suit. It might even be intentional, trying to confuse you so that you don’t realise how utterly routine and predictable this is. Hell, Dave Franco is actually in his 30s, so there’s that too. It all plays very, very weirdly and unconvincingly once you’ve cottoned on to it.
Roberts is a shockingly unconvincing actress and I refuse to believe she even know what a Wu-Tang Clan actually is, let alone know any of their songs. She makes Snow sound hip (Google it, kids), and is the worst actress in a family that already has Eric Roberts and Julia Roberts in it. Emily Meade and particularly Dave Franco are better, but as our leading lady Roberts is a total bust. The soundtrack full of girly breathy-sounding poptarts pissed me off too. Sing normally and in a consistent accent for chrissakes! See…like I said, I’m the wrong person for this. A lot of you reading this right now probably think I’m old and just don’t get it. You’re right, I am and I don’t. I do know that this film is still terrible, though and makes “Pretty Little Liars” look like Shakespeare. I’ve never even seen “Pretty Little Liars”, I swear.
This should’ve been a web-series. A really, really short one. For tweeners. With a completely re-written screenplay that in no way resembles this turkey. As a feature film it’s idiotic, boring, poorly written, and laughable/useless to anyone above the age of about 13. Dave Franco has something, but not enough of it to keep this one from sucking hard. It took two directors to make this mess? Easily one of the worst films of 2016, but if you’re 13 and under this may seem heaps wicked cool to your or something (Pokemon Go, anyone?). I’m getting close to 40, so what the hell would I know about any of this stuff?