Story

Nerve is a techno-thriller based on a novel of the same name. It’s about an online reality ‘truth or dare’ video game called ‘Nerve’.

High-school yearbook photographer Vee (Emma Roberts) lives a quiet life after the death of her older brother. She makes conservative and safe choices and rarely takes risks. One day, Vee’s outgoing and adventurous best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) tells her about an online game called ‘Nerve’. People can enter the game as either ‘players’ or ‘watchers’. Players accept dares from watchers and get money rewards that increase with the danger of the dares. The game has three basic rules: all dares must be recorded on the player’s phone; money earned will be taken back if players fail or don’t complete the dare; and players must not report the game to police.

Although the initial dares are manageable and fairly low-risk, they quickly become increasingly dangerous for Vee. When things get too intense, she decides to tell law enforcement officers about the game. But they do nothing and Vee loses all the money from her bank account as a punishment. Vee and Sydney try to find an alternative way of ending the game without any more harm being done.

Themes

Risk-taking; online video gaming; mob mentality and peer pressure; friendship and relationships

Violence

Nerve shows some violence. For example:

  • Many characters participate in dangerous and risky dares. These involve behaviour like hanging from the ledge of bridges, reckless driving, jumping over bonfires, lying underneath a moving train and so on.
  • Two characters talk about another person who tried to complete a dare and died in the process.
  • While blindfolded, a character drives a motorcycle very fast through city streets.
  • Characters are physically hurt (for example, punched), kidnapped or held against their will.
  • Characters use guns and threaten to shoot other people.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the violent scenes in Nerve, described above.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the violent scenes in Nerve, described above.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the violent scenes in Nerve, described above.

Sexual references

Nerve has some sexual references. For example, teenage characters talk about having sex and ‘sleeping around’. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Nerve shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Teenage characters drink alcohol at parties. Several characters appear to be drunk.
  • Characters talk about using drugs to ‘get high’.
  • A character is smoking something, but it isn’t clear whether it’s a cigarette or marijuana. 

Nudity and sexual activity

Nerve has some sexual content and nudity. For example:

  • A female cheerleader shows her bare bottom during a performance.
  • A young man and woman are seen in their underwear, running through a public place.
  • Teenage characters kiss and touch each other in a sexual way. 

Product placement

Nerve features the use of internet sites like Facebook and Amazon. Also, characters constantly use devices including iPhones and other smartphones.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in Nerve.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Nerve is a thriller about teenage online behaviour.

The movie highlights a range of current and socially relevant concerns. For example, it shows how online anonymity can encourage people to behave in unsafe or unethical ways. And it explores how peer pressure and ‘group think’ can lead to people avoiding individual responsibility for things that a group is doing. The movie also shows the need for courage in the face of obstacles and the importance of supportive friendships.

Nerve received an M rating for ‘mature themes’, which is justified. It also has scenes of violence and substance use that might concern you. We therefore don’t recommend it for viewers under 15 years.

If you have older children who see Nerve, you might like to talk with them about some of the issues raised by this movie, including:

  • the dangerous consequences of risky and violent behaviour – the movie questions whether this behaviour is glamorous and ‘cool’, or whether it’s just harmful to everyone involved
  • the intensity and consequences of peer pressure, and the dangerous impact of going along with a group mentality
  • internet and online safety, and the impact that internet trolling can have on people.