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Stars: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles Helzer

Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Chiller-thriller lite - as one might expect with Roberts and Franco aboard. It posits the idea that a web-wide game called Nerve might invite its participants to be watchers or players, the latter being presented with progressively dangerous dares. for which, if completed, they are rewarded by seeing their bank balance increase (the film doesn't bother to explain where the money comes from: the very idea probably gave the scripters a headache).

The participants pretty much all seem to be teenagers. Extroverted Sydney (Meade) is already a player and taunts her straight-arrow friend Vee (Roberts, at 26 still playing 17) to take part.

The initial dare is to kiss a stranger for 10 seconds for 100 dollars. Vee plucks up her courage and kisses fellow-diner Ian (Franco), who then draws her into the game. Now you and I would cut and run after subsequently banking a few thousand bucks, but this isn't the film's idea, and naturally the dares get increasingly (and life-threateningly) hairy.

It all comes down to a nightmarishly staged but ultimately anti-climactic 'duel' in a makeshift arena, where the only way out of the game is to win its 'final round'.

The film, padded out with cityscapes, never quite sweeps you along with its story, although it would be perfectly acceptable as a video rental, where the concept rather than the execution would be the attraction.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour (unspecified).
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 07 Aug 2016