A shy student gets drawn into an online reality dare game in this cyberthriller based on the 2012 young-adult novel by Jeanne Ryan. Emma Roberts stars as teenager Vee, who is goaded into trying out the app, in which an underground community of players perform dares in return for cash. This proves to be surprisingly lucrative for Vee, though she’s actually more interested in impressing fellow player Ian (Dave Franco), a guy she partners up with one night in New York City. Mild challenges such as ‘kiss a stranger’ escalate to life-threatening tests like ‘motorbike blindfolded’. Then things go too far.
As for the machinations of the game itself, what begins as faintly unlikely becomes flat-out preposterous, but there’s entertainment value along the way. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (‘Catfish’) make the most of the suspenseful set-up, and Vee has enough likeability that you’ll be rooting for her. Roberts and Franco share chemistry, while Emily Meade is enjoyable in the slutty-best-friend role (though poor Juliette Lewis is wasted in another anxious-mom part). Other films – including David Fincher’s ‘The Game’ – have done this better. But with its engaging story, energetic soundtrack and slick production values, ‘Nerve’ is an easy watch.