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Nerve (2016 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written byJessica Sharzer
Based onNerve
by Jeanne Ryan
Produced byAllison Shearmur
Anthony Katagas
CinematographyMichael Simmonds
Edited by
  • Madeleine Gavin
  • Jeff McEvoy
Music byRob Simonsen
  • Allison Shearmur Productions
  • Keep Your Head Productions
  • Supermarche
Distributed byLionsgate
Release dates
  • July 12, 2016 (2016-07-12) (SVA Theater)
  • July 27, 2016 (2016-07-27) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$19 million[2]
Box office$85.3 million[2]

Nerve is a 2016 American techno-thriller adventure film directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and written by Jessica Sharzer, based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Jeanne Ryan. The film stars Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, and Juliette Lewis, and revolves around an online truth or dare game, which allows people to enlist as "players" or "watchers" and as the game progresses, the players are contacted and invited to participate in more dangerous dares than their prior ones.

The film premiered at the SVA Theater on July 12, 2016,[3] and was theatrically released on July 27, 2016, by Lionsgate. It received positive reviews from critics for its energy and the chemistry of its cast, and grossed over $85 million worldwide against a $19 million budget.[4]



High school senior Venus "Vee" Delmonico longs to leave Staten Island for college, but is reluctant to tell her mother because they are still mourning the recent death of Vee's brother. Her friend Sydney is popular on Nerve, an online reality game in which users either enlist as "players" or pay to watch as "watchers". Players accept dares given by the watchers in order to receive money and a spot in the final.

After Sydney chastises Vee's unadventurous nature, Vee decides to sign up as a player on Nerve. Her first dare is to kiss a random stranger. At a diner, she kisses Ian, who dances and sings to Vee, revealing he is another player on a dare. The watchers dare Ian to take Vee to Manhattan, and together, they travel to Manhattan and complete several dares: they try on expensive clothes, Vee gets a tattoo, and Ian drives his motorcycle at 60 mph blindfolded. This, as well as Vee and Ian's chemistry, allows them to become two of the top players.

Jealous of Vee's popularity on Nerve, Sydney accepts a dare at a party to cross a ladder between two buildings, but she bails during the dare and is eliminated from Nerve. Vee arrives at the party and catches Sydney making out with J.P, a boy Vee has a crush on. As they argue, Vee discovers from her hacker friend Tommy that Ian was dared into bringing Vee to the party and incite an argument between her and Sydney.

Vee receives a dare to complete Sydney's dare of crossing the ladder between the two buildings, which she completes. Realizing how dangerous Nerve is, Vee attempts to report the game to the police but is disbelieved. As a result, all of the money in her and her mother's joint bank account is removed. Nerve player Ty knocks Vee out in order to keep her in the game.

Vee wakes up in a shipping container, where she finds Ian, who confesses that he and Ty were players whose friend was killed in a dare. When they tried to alert the authorities, their families' jobs, bank accounts, and identities were confiscated. Vee has joined them in the secret third category of the game: "prisoners". If a prisoner can reach and win the day's final round, they regain everything.

Tommy and Sydney work with Tommy's hacker friends to try and disable Nerve by altering the game's online code. They hope to prevent Vee from playing the game, but since all the watchers phones and profiles act as a distributed server, they can't completely disable Nerve.

Vee wins a spot in the final of Nerve, and Ian completes a dare to also gain a spot in the final, which takes place at Battery Weed. At the final, Vee and Ian are dared to shoot each other with guns, which they both refuse to do. Ty then takes Ian's place in the final and proposes a vote on whether or not he should shoot Vee. The watchers vote yes by a majority, to which Ty then shoots Vee who seemingly dies in Ian's arms.

Tommy and his hackers are able to modify Nerve’s source code to decrypt the watchers' usernames into their real names as well as sending them a message: "You are an accessory to murder". The panicked watchers log out of the game, closing all the servers and ending the game.

Despondent over Vee's apparent death, Ian aims his gun at Ty, but Vee stops him, revealing that she and Ty had staged her murder to scare the watchers into shutting down their profiles on Nerve and end it permanently. Tommy and his hackers are able to restore the money to all of the players.

A few months later, Vee and Sydney have reconciled, Vee and Ian are a couple, and Vee is attending college in California. As Vee and Ian watch the sunrise, he reveals his true name to be Sam.





Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost had previously dealt with similar themes in their documentary Catfish.[5] On their attraction to a film based around the Internet, they stated, "Most things aren’t black and white. The Internet is neither good nor bad; it just depends on how you use it",[6] giving the example that the Nerve game could be both "a really empowering game, and it’s also the most awful thing that you can possibly imagine".[6] The directors strived for a PG-13 rating, with Schulman stating "we wanted to make sure that younger teenagers could see it. We think it has an important message and they’ll dig it", with Joost adding "We weren’t interested in making a gross torture movie".[6] In trying to keep the rating down, the directors axed a "sex dare" that "was ultimately just too dark and weird".[6] The film has also a lighter ending and theme than the book, as the novel deals with a much darker plot and ending. The team stated that the fast-changing nature of the Internet made it a tough subject to make a narrative feature about, with Joost noting that the app Periscope came out during the film development, which Joost called "like half-way to being Nerve".[5]

In January 2015, it was announced that Emma Roberts and Dave Franco were set to star in the film.[7] In April 2015, it was announced that Kimiko Glenn had joined the cast of the film, portraying the role of Emma Roberts' character's worried friend.[8] The same day, it was announced that rapper Colson "Machine Gun Kelly" Baker had also joined the cast.[9]



Principal photography on the film began on April 13, 2015, in New York City.[10][11] Production on the film concluded on June 5, 2015.[12][13]



The film premiered at the School of Visual Arts in New York City on July 12, where the cast attended.[3] It was also screened on July 21 at Comic-Con.[14] The film was originally scheduled for September 16, 2016, but was eventually theatrically released on July 27, 2016.[15]



Box office


Nerve grossed $38.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $46.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $85.2 million, against a budget of $19 million.[2]

The film was projected to gross around $10 million in its opening weekend and $15 million over its first five days from 2,538 theaters.[16] The film grossed $3.7 million on its opening day[17] and ended up finishing 8th at the box office in its opening weekend, grossing $9.4 million (a five-day total of $15.5 million).[18]

Critical response


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 67% based on 144 reviews, with an average rating of 5.78/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Nerve's fast pace and charming leads help overcome a number of fundamental flaws, adding up to a teen-friendly thriller with enough energy to occasionally offset its muddled execution."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

Scott Tobias of Uproxx wrote, "Though the ending surrenders to a tsk-tsk-ing morality play that turns on the mob the game (and the film) has so smartly orchestrated, Nerve is the rare virtual thriller that understands how social media actually works and the addictive little subcultures that can spin out of it."[21] Dave Palmer of The Reel Deal gave the film 7/10, saying, "It is a lot of fun, and not even in a turn-your-brain off kind of way. The film actually has some smart things to say about teenagers, their phones and what people will do to get internet famous and it is all delivered in a colorful little package."[22]



The film was nominated at the People's Choice Awards in the category "Favorite Thriller Movie".[23]


  1. ^ "Nerve (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 18, 2016. Archived from the original on July 8, 2017. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Nerve (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "'Nerve' premieres in New York City (NYC) - Photos". United Press International. July 13, 2016. Archived from the original on July 17, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  4. ^ "Jason Bourne Thrills but Lacks Identity". July 28, 2016. Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Puchko, Kristy (July 12, 2016). "Nerve Directors On Technology Advancements & Future Projects". Screenrant. Archived from the original on July 14, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d Bell, Crystal. "NERVE DIRECTORS REVEAL THE VOYEURISTIC DARE THAT WAS TOO 'GROSS' FOR PG-13". MTV. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  7. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 27, 2015). "Dave Franco and Emma Roberts to Star in YA Thriller 'Nerve'". Variety. Archived from the original on May 26, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  8. ^ Pederson, Erik (April 17, 2015). "'Married's Kimiko Glenn Joins 'Nerve'; Kino Lorber Acquires 'Gueros'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 31, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  9. ^ Halperin, Shirley (April 17, 2015). "Machine Gun Kelly Joins Emma Roberts, Dave Franco In 'Nerve'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 7, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  10. ^ "Emma Roberts and Dave Franco begin filming 'Nerve' in NYC on April 13". onlocationvacations.com. March 31, 2015. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  11. ^ "Emma Roberts and Dave Franco spotted filming 'Nerve' in NYC". onlocationvacations.com. April 18, 2015. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  12. ^ Joost, Henry (June 5, 2015). "Last day shooting #NerveNYC 😢 #davefranco #denim #triplets 📷 by @orleeroses". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  13. ^ "On the Set for 6/15/15: Martin Scorsese Starts Shooting "Free Fire", Matthew McConaughey Finishes "Free State of Jones" & More". SSNInsider.com. June 15, 2015. Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  14. ^ "Emma Roberts-Dave Franco Thriller 'Nerve' To Sneak At Comic-Con". Deadline Hollywood. July 19, 2016. Archived from the original on December 17, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  15. ^ Busch, Anita (May 10, 2016). "Lionsgate Moves YA Title 'Nerve' Into Summer, Schedules 'The Woods'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 11, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  16. ^ "'Jason Bourne' Should Lead Box Office, But Not Ladies Looking For 'Bad Moms' & 'Nerve' – B.O. MGK made $3 million for his role in Nerve Preview". Deadline Hollywood. July 26, 2016. Archived from the original on October 25, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  17. ^ "'Nerve' Box Office Starts With $1M In Tuesday Previews". Deadline Hollywood. July 27, 2016. Archived from the original on September 25, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Brevet, Brad (July 31, 2016). "'Jason Bourne' Tops Weekend with $60M; 'Star Trek Beyond' Suffers Big Second Weekend Drop". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on August 3, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  19. ^ "Nerve (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  20. ^ "Nerve reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on August 26, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  21. ^ "'Nerve' Finds The Creators Of 'Catfish' Crafting A Social Media-Savvy Cyberthriller". Uproxx. July 26, 2016. Archived from the original on July 27, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  22. ^ "'Nerve' Colorful, Manic Summer Fun". TheReelDeal.com. July 26, 2016. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  23. ^ Hipes, Patrick (November 15, 2016). "People's Choice Awards Nominees Set". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 3, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2020.