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Nerve: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Nerve (2016) movie poster Nerve

Theatrical Release: July 27, 2016 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman / Writers: Jeanne Ryan (novel), Jessica Scharzer (screenplay)

Cast: Emma Roberts (Venus "Vee" Delmonico), Dave Franco (Ian/Sam), Emily Meade (Sydney "Syd" Sloane), Miles Heizer (Tommy Mancuso), Colson Baker (Ty), Juliette Lewis (Nancy Delmonico), Kimiko Glenn (Liv), Marc John Jeffries (Wes), Brian Marc (Juan Pablo "JP" Guerrero), Samira Wiley (Azhar)

Buy Nerve from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD + Digital Instant Video

Nerve is kind of like David Fincher's The Game for teens.
In that 1997 thriller, a middle-aged businessman played by Michael Douglas found his life turned upside down as a result of a unique experience given to him as a birthday present by his brother. In this film, adapted from the 2012 YA novel by Jeanne Ryan, all the cool kids in New York City are partaking in a similarly experiential game as either watchers or players.

Players are given dares and a countdown to perform them, having to use their cell phones to document it live. Those who succeed build an audience and climb up the rankings ladder, receiving direct deposits to their bank accounts for each challenge met.

In "Nerve", Ian (Dave Franco) and Vee (Emma Roberts) are players in a 24-hour game of dares.

Venus Delmonico (Emma Roberts) is no risk-taker. The photography-inclined senior at Staten Island's Vanderbilt High School hasn't told her mother (Juliette Lewis) that she has been accepted at CalArts. She also hasn't voiced her feelings to the football player she has a huge crush on. Inspired by Sydney (Emily Meade), a friend who is thriving at Nerve, Vee signs up as a player.

Using information culled from various online sources, the game is tailored to her. Her first dare to kiss a stranger lets her cross paths with Ian (Dave Franco), a fellow Nerve player. Soon, the two are teaming up, motorcycling into Manhattan, trying on some high-priced clothes, and living on the edge as their bank accounts grow.

Nerve should be fun. There is so much about the premise that is plausible, from the ease with which social media data can be mined and exploited to the self-documented nature of a modern youth, complete with snarky anonymous comments. A foreseeable successor to reality television competitions, Nerve is like YouTube meets The Hunger Games.

Vee's friends Tommy (Miles Heizer) and Sydney (Emily Meade) join forces to help her in the dangerous finale.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers from a severe lack of intelligence.
It has little in the way of social commentary to offer online thrills. Instead, while a peripheral subplot sees Vee's nerdy friend (Miles Heizer) and his "dark web" associates trying to hack into the game's networks, Vee, Ian, and their fellow competitors proceed to perform dangerous and easily imitated stunts, like getting up to 60 m.p.h. on a motorcycle blindfolded and walking from one building to another on a ladder suspended from windows between them several stories up.

To a viewer of a certain age and mindset, Nerve must be kind of exhilarating and diverting. The respectable 6.8 6.7 average user rating on IMDb testifies to that. I would have assumed my fellow critics, most of them years past the target audience, would loathe the film, which is loaded with the style and music of a generation behind them (with one cringeworthy tattoo parlor Wu-Tang Clan sing-along tossed in for good measure). They were actually more divided down the middle, resulting in a seemingly decent Tomatometer score masking a slightly below-average rating.

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the directors of Catfish and the third and fourth Paranormal Activity movies, did not make this movie for the critics. They made this for teenagers, who clearly have all these alternative forms of amusing themselves with smart phones in their possession at all times. You can appreciate an action-adventure movie for the younger sect and though this is no Hunger Games, it's better and more watchable than Divergent and most of the Twilight movies.

And despite all the competition for teenaged eyeballs, the movie fared okay at the box office during a summer where not even sure things were certain. Grossing $38.6 million domestic and $80.4 M worldwide on a modest budget of $20 M, Nerve was no blockbuster, but nor was it a disappointment. It hit stores this week in a DVD + Digital and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Nerve: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS X/DTS-HD MA (English), 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Spanish), 2.0 DTS-HD (Optimized for Late Night Viewing, Descriptive Video Service, DTS X Headphone)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Two Single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Holographic Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD + Digital ($29.95 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video


Whether or not its creative faults bother you, Nerve certainly offers a dynamic audio-visual experience on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture is sharp and vivid, showcasing its inspired overlay graphics and colorful compositions. The 7.1 DTS X soundtrack is even better, engaging and immersing you throughout with impact, directionality, and purpose.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman offer their thoughts on various topics in the making-of Watcher character pods. Random people play Nerve at the Governors Ball Music Festival.


Taking creative inspiration from the film, the Blu-ray menu, which features purple-tinted clips, score and suitable graphics, divides extras into Watcher and Player modes. The Blu-ray both supports bookmarks and resumes all unfinished playback.

Under Watcher, we find 17 short "character pods" profiling the film's players and stunts with a mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips. The pieces are "@_IAN_" (2:10) on Dave Franco's character, "@Flyin_Blind" (1:48) on the blindfolded motorcycle ride, "@SYD_BABY_XO" (1:40) on "bestie" Sydney played by Emily Meade, "@WhiteKnuckles" (1:40) on the crane hanging stunt performed against green screen,
"@Made_U_Look" (2:39) on the directing duo's dynamic, "@I?NYC" (1:19) on filming in New York City, "@Vee_99" (2:09) on Emma Roberts and her protagonist, "@TYdontDY" (1:54) on Machine Gun Kelly's role, "@Tha_High_Life" (1:58) on the ladder-crossing stunt, "@darkweb_whiteknight" (1:48) on hacker friend Tommy, "@MicDrop" (1:47) on Dave Franco's Roy Orbison singing scene, "@TimesSquareTakeover" (1:20) on Emily Meade's in-character pranks on real people shot guerilla style in one of Manhattan's busiest neighborhoods, "@squadGOALS" (1:49) pointing out cameos made by Internet "celebrities", "@Seymour_Butts" (1:21) on the department store underwear run scene, "@dropping_beats" (1:17) on the film's music, "@govball_prankin" (2:45) sees people you don't know playing Nerve at what must be the 2016 Governors Ball Music Festival, and "@Tattewish" (2:48) supplying outtakes from The Fat Jewish's tattoo parlor scene.

Some may be annoyed by the lack of a "Play All" option, especially since the pods are intentionally not even laid out in an orderly fashion.

Six players, some of them real life Internet personalities evidently making cameos, are profiled in "The Players." "Do You Have the Nerve?" lets you play "Nerve"....but without the cash prizes or engaged audience.

The remaining extras, no more routine for bonus features, are relegated to the Player section.

"The Players" supplies animated profiles and biographies of six players, some of whom are real Internet celebrities being described as themselves.

"Do You Have the Nerve?" lets you play Nerve, assigning you dares and time limits. I can't see many people playing this as intended, but it's a nice idea and one that could make for fun with a young, adventurous group. Fittingly, the game is designed just like it is in the movie, complete with success and fail videos.

Finally, "Are You a Watcher or a Player?" is a quiz asking you 16 multiple choice questions to determine whether you're a watcher or a player. To my great surprise (and perhaps the quiz's miscalculation), it turns out I'm a player.

Nerve sports suitably colorful main menu on Blu-ray and DVD.

The DVD only gets the "Watcher" features. The character pods are presented in straightforward list fashion, with ordinary titles and a "Play All" option.
Only two of the shorts are not included under the heading "Creating Nerve"; they are given their own listings directly on the Special Features menu.

The discs open with trailers for La La Land, Now You See Me 2, Allegiant, and Guilt. Oddly, these are not menu-accessible on Blu-ray, perhaps so as not to disrupt the theming.

The two uniquely labeled full-color discs share an eco-friendly keepcase with a Digital HD UltraViolet insert. The case is topped by a holographic slipcover full of electric blue and neon pink.

Emma Roberts play Venus Delmonico, who in this shot looks like Little Red Riding Hoodie.


Nerve is slick, watchable, and respectful of your time. Unfortunately, it's also consistently stupid, which makes it difficult to appreciate any fun it tries to generate as an updated, teen-oriented version of The Game.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray combo pack looks great, sounds great, and is creatively designed. If you like the movie, this release is sure to satisfy. But if your tastes are more like mine, you'll see this as more of a one-time viewing.

Buy Nerve from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD + Digital / Instant Video

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Reviewed October 27, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Lionsgate, Allison Shearmur, and Keep Your Head Productions.
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