The great thing about the highly sophisticated media production studios that we all carry around in our pockets is that they grant the potential for immediate worldwide celebrity, provided we’re willing to be sufficiently reckless. Nerve carries that concept to its logical conclusion. Based on the 2012 novel by Jeanne Ryan, it follows a generally risk-averse young woman (Emma Roberts) who gets caught up in a live online game of dares with an improbably enormous viewership.
What begins as a relatively innocuous kiss with a Virginia Woolf-reading firm-jawed stranger (Dave Franco) gets broadcast to the Internet by cellphone, then quickly escalates through riskier dares until the couple’s running through the streets of New York City without their clothes, getting tattooed, and diving under passing trains, all at the whim of the game’s “watchers.” And because this film comes from Lionsgate—the unofficial studio of attractive young people forced into desperate competitive circumstances—it all culminates with the Grand Prize round, in which they find themselves pitted against other players, fighting for their lives.
This techno-nightmare/romantic comedy is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 3 and 4) from a script by Roberts’ American Horror Story compatriot, Jessica Sharzer. Nerve streaks into theaters July 27.