by Aya

A thriller-adventure film about an online game of truth or dare, Nerve submerges us into the deepest depths of danger and manipulation. 

Ever played truth or dare? The game can be pretty intense. It’s not so much the embarrassment you suffer from as the discomfort in knowing that people take pleasure in humiliating you, and it’s not exactly something you can walk away from without feeling a tad bitter.

Directed by director duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who have dealt with similar themes in their documentary Catfish, the 2016 summer hit Nerve revolves around the online version of this classic game. In the movie, an anonymous community of “watchers” pay “players” to complete a series of increasingly risky dares. 

We all know that most things involving money, the Internet and a group of strangers, pretty much lead to nothing good, right? Things spiral out of control for most of the movie, and we are shown just how appallingly cruel and dark people can be. Not that we don’t know it already, of course. We do, however, take a little pleasure in seeing others humiliated, if not tormented, and what better way to do it than through something made up so that we may sleep easily at night?  

Joost and Schulman had stated that Nerve can either be a “really empowering game” or “the most awful thing that you can possibly imagine”. In striving for a PG-13 rating so that teenagers could watch it and understand the “important message”, the two decided to axe a sex dare that was “ultimately just too dark and weird”. The film actually has a lighter ending than that of the novel it is based on, so if you absolutely have to find out the extent of the depravity the protagonists face, you know where to look.

Although Nerve received mixed reviews, it grossed over $83 million, which says something about what it brings to the table (or big screen). It stars Emma Roberts, niece of Julia Roberts, and Dave Franco, brother of James Franco, and the pair’s chemistry is apparent – perhaps due in part to the fact that they had previously co-starred in a music video for Cults – and their onscreen time together makes for an easy watch. Many viewers have shared the sentiment that the film draws parallels from several others, so if you’re quite the movie buff, perhaps you can try to spot the exciting similarities. 

Inspired to seek out some thrills after catching the show? Check out Double Dog, an app that allows you to send and receive dares from anyone and actually make money from it. All you have to do is either take a photo or show video proof, and if likes and follows are the sort of things you’re after, share your accomplishments for all to see (and salute). So far, there’s been over a million transactions, so you can be assured there’s a community of like-minded people out there. Just be careful that you don’t end up in a hole you can’t get out of. 

Emma Roberts & Dave Franco on being half-naked for two days