Monday 15 August 2016


Snitch Of The Def Nerve

2016 USA
Directed by  Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
UK cinema release print.

Okay... so I have many grumbles about this new film Nerve but most of them are unimportant for what, ultimately, turns out to be a fairly entertaining movie.There are a few things which kinda grate though so... if you're interested, read on.

First up... this is something like the fifth movie made in just the last few years with this title. Sure, it’s based on an original novel but perhaps a title change might have helped ensure there’s no confusion in the marketplace as to which movie is which? I’m sick of producers and directors calling their movies, ones which aren’t even a remake, the same title as various others. They really need to sort themselves out.

Secondly... what the heck are the BBFC up to now?

Nerve has, quite bizarrely, been given a 15 certificate by those fiendish moral guardians, so what can this be about? Is it for extended scenes of nudity or sex? Nope, nothing like that here. Is it for excessive violence, perhaps? Nah, not much of anything to be seen here. Excessive swearing perhaps? Nope, not that I can recall, Anything which is said is certainly well within the remit of the ‘young teenage’ audience this has obviously been made for and I certainly hear far stronger stuff from 7 - 8 year olds on the bus on their way back from school. Oh, wait... here’s the clue in the description underneath the certification before the film starts...

This film has been given a 15 rating for... 'Risky Imitable Behaviour.' What the f***? Seriously BBFC? Seriously? Gee... I was watching a Western a while back and in that movie, which could be shown on television during the day, men in funny hats were firing six shooters at each other and killing their enemies. Some of them might even have been smoking. Surely that’s all pretty much even worse imitable behaviour than what you see in this movie? This is just another example of how completely screwed in the head our ratings system is over here. Don’t buy into it folks! Also, if I were to make a guess as to which scenes the BBFC were talking about... well they’re in every trailer for the movie that I’ve seen. Don’t remember getting any warnings about watching the trailer to this thing though.

Okay, so Nerve is not a bad movie but it’s definitely a film aimed specifically at the teenage audience. A teenage audience of whom only half will be allowed to legally watch it in this country because of the insistence of the BBFC. So what we have is a bunch of teenagers talking on their various social media devices and some dizzying fast camerawork and some badly inappropriate songs. All in all, this makes the first 15 - 20 minutes of this movie almost unwatchable. It’s been a long time since I was tempted to walk out of a cinema because of how bad a movie was up to a certain point and, I won’t beat around the bush here... this one did tempt me.

However, once the plot of a secret society and virtually untraceable reality game show called Nerve, which asks their players to risk certain things on dares to win cash, kicks in properly, we have something which does settle down to become a little more watchable and, dare I say it, fairly  suspenseful. It does help that we have an extremely charismatic pair of actors in the lead roles... Emma Roberts from (reviewed very briefly here) as Vee and Dave Franco from the Now You See Me films (reviewed here and here) as Ian. Despite some full on camera movement acrobatics and lots of short shots which make things sometimes hard to follow, these two and their relationship as they team up to play the game, risking it all as they ultimately try to beat the ‘Snitches get stitches’ rule as the game empties your bank account and steals your identity to take you to a death match, is the glue which solidly holds the film in place. You find yourself really caring about these characters because their on screen chemistry is so good. So that’s a surprisingly big positive in the way you may perceive this film, I think. If you can actually get through the breathtakingly shallow, teenage angst of the introductory character set ups, that is.

Another thing that doesn’t harm the movie is the way the technology is used and shown as infographic overlays on the screen. I recently reviewed The Shallows (here) where it really hurt the movie to the point where it was something I found myself focusing on again and again in a negative manner. Here, though, it works really well and part of that is because the context of the story actually means that it makes sense for the directors to be doing this sort of thing. It’s almost essential, actually, and saves a lot of otherwise inane dialogue from being inserted into the movie about ‘how many followers do you have’ and ‘how many watchers are in the area’. To be sure, the dialogue does hit that level too at a couple of points but only when they need to be specifically highlighted in context of advancing the story... otherwise the visual shorthand is handled just right here and it works like a dream, despite the excessive energy of the constantly moving camera operator and the people in the editing suite.

Something that really doesn’t work is the inane musical choices. Don’t get me wrong... Rob Simonsen’s electronica score is actually pretty good and I look forward to picking up a CD when it’s hopefully released in September. However, it does seem to be overshadowed by the sound mix in a lot of places and, worse, the inevitable batch of totally inappropriate, just awful, kiddy pop songs which also seem to pop up to populate the movie and render the sometimes seductive visuals at their most banal. I hate songtracks and this is one of the worst I’ve had to sit through at the cinema, for sure. Yeah, I know I’m far from the target audience to this stuff but... I know bad kid-pop music when I hear it.

Having said all that, though, Nerve does manage to be somewhat intense at certain points... there are a few beyond the edge of your seat moments in this. It’s also, as I said earlier, somewhat entertaining and, although I don’t think I could ever sit through it again, it’s certainly not a bad choice for a movie to see on a Saturday night at your local cinema. I suspect, if you are younger than the actual certification age of this movie, you will probably enjoy it a lot more than anyone else but, you know, if you do watch it... make sure you don’t end up killing yourself due to all that excessively ‘risky imitable behaviour’... or the BBFC might come and arrest you, or something.

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