If we're talking about gaming, we've gotta talk about Pokémon Go. Upon its explosive release, Reuters reported that the game added $7.5 billion to Nintendo's market value in just two days, while Recode claimed the game has an estimated 9.5 million daily users. While there have been other addicting games like this in the past — how many Farmville requests did you have in 2012? — these recent numbers show just how contagious online gaming can be, especially when you can access it from a mobile device. It's called "viral" for a reason, but Nerve, the new thriller starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, tells a tale of what happens when this type of play goes too far. And although Nerve is not based on a true story, it uses the phenomena of viral gaming to create terror that's a little too close for comfort.
In the new movie, out July 27, Roberts plays Venus, a high school who gets tangled up in a online version of Truth or Dare that blends together reality TV and gaming. As people pay to watch her go through different dares, Venus amasses a small fan base and some kickass prizes, but things quickly go sour, and Venus has to figure out a way to back out of the game. Based on a 2012 novel by Jeanna Ryan, Nerve is not real story, but it shows a scary potential outcome of online gaming.
Franco, who plays Roberts' love interest in the film, told Geeks World Wide that the freakiest part of the film is that it could be based on true story. "I think that’s what makes the movie so scary is that you can imagine this game existing any day now because how obsessed people are with social media and becoming instantly famous," he said. In an era where books and movies like The Hunger Games present dystopian futures ripped up by classism, racism, and violence, Nerve sets itself on similar wavelength and shows the impact of voyeurism and the disembodiment of online communication. People pay to watch Venus suffer - how terrifying is that?
The idea behind Nerve is familiar territory for the directors of the film, Nev Schulman and Henry Joost, the duo behind the acclaimed documentary Catfish. "We were excited to do a thriller that also had something to say about the world we live in," said Joost in a video interview with DGRF. In the same interview, the directors agreed that Nerve is a movie that critiques the way online communication has changed how humans interact with each other. With that in mind, this film sounds like a great one to see with your offline friends.