Having squandered their talents helming two workmanlike Paranormal Activity sequels, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have finally delivered a worthy follow-up to 2010’s quasi-documentary Catfish. Nerve, based on the YA novel by Jeanne Ryan, is another cautionary tale about digital identity. Emma Roberts plays Vee, an introverted high schooler who finds herself the star of a sinister online game that requires its players to perform increasingly reckless tasks in exchange for cash. Vee’s innocuous early challenges introduce her to dashing fellow player Ian (Dave Franco), but as internet viewers respond to the pair’s palpable chemistry, their budding relationship is willed by the anonymous horde towards darker terrain. While the film has little new to say, its execution is bracingly peppy. Neon-hued visuals lend the action an ominous, hyperreal glow, while the propulsive, genre-hopping soundtrack reflects Vee’s struggle to define her own identity. Things take a disappointing turn for the ludicrous in the final act, but overall this is a taut teen thriller, elevated by a handful of expertly crafted set pieces.
Nerve | Directed by Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman (USA 2016) with Emma Roberts, Dave Franco. Starts September 8