*NEW* NERVE REVIEW *NEW*

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The dares may have been nail biting BUT the cliched dialogue and cheesy moments got on my NERVES!

A high school senior (Emma Roberts) finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”

It’s like truth or dare BUT without the truth. So it’s dare. Just say dare. Instead of people playing Pokemon Go, we have idiots taking videos of themselves lying on train tracks and hanging off scaffolding for views and likes.

I didn’t even realise that was adapted from a book until my mate told me. BUT after watching this mixed bag, I’m NOT sure if I will seek out the original source material.

From the moment the film began with that nauseating first person PoV of Roberts’ Vee (Short for Venus. Don’t worry, we’re told numerous times. Just in case we forget) perusing her Facebook page, playing “The Only Single Person of her Friends” Spotify playlist and whining about going to college, I didn’t know if this would be for me.

Roberts (Scream Queens) was a likeable presence and the pace zipped along. It set up her cliched back story quite quickly and you could relate to her social awkwardness and inability to tell her financial stricken mother that a local college might NOT be in her plans.

And it wasn’t long before the NERVE-ous teen (What?) was introduced to the latest viral craze. Emily Meade (The Leftovers) made a memorable turn as Vee’s attention seeking and insecure “BFF” Sydney. Her incessant nitpicking goading Vee to break free from the lonely ranks of the “WATCHER” and take on life as a “PLAYER”. A shame the same can’t be said for the rest of the supporting cast.

Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) was wasted in her role as Vee’s mum. Their relationship wasn’t really explored enough (or at all for that matter). There was so much potential BUT it was all thrown away for the game.

Miles Heizer (Parenthood) was funny as Tommy. The poor chap who can’t accept Vee’s “friend zone”. BUT once Dave Franco (Now You See Me 2) hit the scene, his snarky one liners and quips were reduced to phone in conversations. Only returning for the finale.

The whole concept of NERVE was intriguing and was a fantastic satire ripe for poking fun at the idiocy that all these social media platforms bring (as well as the dangers). BUT for the first 30 minutes, it was just too damn corny. Despite NERVE focusing perfectly on the addictive nature of a new craze with Vee enjoyed living a little and gaining fans, I could feel my patience wading.

Franco’s introduction picked things up a bit and he managed to drudge through some of the more nauseating moments. BUT I had to cringe at the lad miming badly to Roy Orbison and prancing around the diner for a dare.

BUT while this was all going on, I kept wondering why this film got a 15 rating in the first place?! Kiss a guy for 10 seconds. Wear an expensive dress. Get a tattoo. Really?

Luckily the pair had good chemistry and kept things watchable BUT I was still left wanting. HOWEVER just as I was about to give up on this cheesy teen flick, the game took a turn for the worse. As Vee became a viral sensation, the dares soon became more challenging leading to a tense adrenaline pumped second half.

The true danger of social media. A white knuckle motorbike ride had me wincing throughout as Vee guided a blindfolded Ian (Franco) across a busy traffic riddled New York street. BUT that didn’t make me feel quite as queasy as the ladder dare.

A rattly ladder pinned between two buildings with a nice 20-30 storey drop. No thank you! And to make matters worse, the opponent must film the whole thing on their phone while doing it. The camera angles and first person perspective tested my vertigo a treat.

Frantic, suspenseful and mental. A rewarding half that almost paid off as things came to a head. BUT this was where it let itself down again after all that promise and tension. Vee and Sydney’s friendly battle for views became more competitive BUT it led to nothing more than a bitchy ‘slanging’ match. Shame.

And that was the problem. This could have been so much darker. It was far too corny for its own good and despite these mental challenges and satirical commentary, it rushed everything for a frantic and abrupt finale that delivered a hammy sermon on the woes of trolling and illegal online activity.

I could respect the message BUT the timing and delivery was dreadfully dull and killed a lot of the suspense.

A mixed bag. I could think of worse ways to kill 90 minutes. A watchable romp BUT not quite what I hoped.

2.5/5

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UNFRIENDED REVIEW

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I’ll unfriend anyone who liked this film.

A little harsh. Some might say. But you know you’re onto a loser when everyone in the cinema is laughing. Uninspiring, unattractive and uninteresting.

As soon as the crackly Universal logo started buffering across the screen, I feared the worst.

So what’s this tripe about? A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.

We see everything through the POV of Shelley Hennig’s character Blaire and the webcams of her friends. An intriguing concept, I’ll admit. That was if we wasn’t watching a teenage girl nosing around on a Mac.

The creepy YouTube video of her high school friend committing suicide certainly caught my attention and it was clever how the Facebook posts and clips filled in everything we needed to know. A malicious prank (That felt like something out of the Inbetweeners) inevitably triggers an online bullying campaign by trolls.

The notion of cyber-bullying is something that needs to be addressed but this film merely uses it as a lazy ploy for a vindictive cyber-demon.

What infuriated me was the lack in pace. Bearing in mind we are seeing a teenage girl, fully active in the social media age and adapted to the relentless technological gadgetry; she was incredibly slow at moving her mouse around. It was like watching my 80 year old aunt slowly clicking on each tab, killing any suspense or tension that the film failed to build up.

Hennig and Moses Storm were such a vomit inducing couple. Using Skype to waste screen time and bore me with cheesy, cliched dialogue that did little to make me feel anything for them. Also an online foreplay sequence involving a knife definitely set the wrong tone for its teen audience and came off unfunny and questionable.

I was praying for the troll or demon thing to make an appearance after ten minutes of listening to them whining about making Prom Night THE night and messing around with their blasted Spotify playlists.

And then the Skype chat begins and I wish I walked out. The cast were terrible. Let me rephrase. The characters were terrible. Irritating, obnoxious, deluded and stupid! As soon as Jacob Wysocki bellowed through the tinny speakers, “I can see your chodies” with his face stuffed full of Cheetos, I knew I was done.

The mindless chatter and desperate attempts to fuse any tension between the characters was futile. The flicking back and forth between the Skype chats and private Facebook chats was well done. It was just a shame that the conversations were so bland.

However, as soon as the anonymous Skype member joined in and Blaire started receiving messages from her dead BFF, my interest was finally piqued.

It was slow burning and I don’t mind that if there is a big pay off. A moment of ingenuity, suspense, shock! I had to remember that they are teenagers and some of their decisions may have been stupid but not too similar to the majority of teens out there that would do the same thing.

And some of the more logical steps they do try. Deleting said dead friend off Facebook. I didn’t know how to do that. Not remove dead friends obviously. Reporting forums. Virus software if a troll has managed to get onto your server. So I will commend where credit is due.

BUT the bickering. The yelling. It gave me a headache. It’s not long before secrets are leaked out on Facebook. The ridiculous demon forums with their silly chain letters. My teacher spoke to a demon last night and woke up dead. Perrrrleeeassseee.

Will Peltz played the douchebag Adam well but his actions and volatile behaviour were comical. Grabbing a gun from his desk and threatening an online cyber troll through a webcam was stupid. What made it worse was that the dodgy stuff hadn’t even happened yet. This was 30 minutes in when ANONYMOUS asked to play a game.

When things inevitably take a turn for the worst, there were little pockets of tension but little scares. The rule of the game being: YOU LOG OUT. YOU DIE. YOU DON’T PLAY THE GAME. YOU DIE. You get the picture. A scene in which one of the users is “punished” was just plain messed up. It surprised me. The one and only time. I thought to myself, “Okay. Going for the Saw angle. I’ll go with this”. Hand. Blender. Woah. That’s all I’m saying.

BUT alas after that little shocker, we have more squealing, more yelling and more rubbish. The game was actually not that bad. BUT the little conversations away from the Skype chat soon bored me again. Blaire still believes that it is a joke set up by her BF after two messed up deaths? Come on. She keeps typing to him in a private chat and doesn’t even look at the Skype chat window to see he is not typing and completely freaking out.

Then we have the shocking confessions as the friends turn against each other. The inevitable “Who leaked the video?” that caused so-and-so’s death? The reveal being utterly predictable and disappointing. And what do you know? They weren’t such good friends after all.

After failing to deliver scares, it went for plain stupidity. Using Chat Roulette to call for help. Seriously? Lordy lord. It got the biggest laugh out of the film. Now if this was a comedy, it would have been great. BUT in a film that promised Paranormal Activity meets Cyberbully, it was devastating. A girl in tears asking two stoners to call the police because her friend is being killed by something she doesn’t know. Unbelievable.

If you want a nail biting, tension setting thriller that deals with the true horror of online cyber bullying, please watch the superior Channel 4 drama Cyberbully with Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones. It was also brought to my attention by fellow blogger MOVIEBLORT that Unfriended stole the premise of a smaller (and better) horror film, The Den. That’s the most shocking twist of it all.

http://movieblort.com/2014/04/23/96-the-den-2014-a-young-woman-studying-the/

The finale finally got going as me and my friends were getting ready to go. I thought maybe we will break out of the POV when the demon appears? Oh for a only brief – TRANSMISSION ENDED.

AVOID!

1/5

*THROWBACK REVIEW* MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN REVIEW

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DO. NOT. BOTHER.

Jason Reitman pens a delightfully dull and dreary commentary on the woes of social media.

Certainly not what I expected. Which worked in one aspect BUT failed on so many others.

The recent spate of trailers seemed to market this as a romantic drama seen through the platform of social media i.e. Facebook, Tumblr, etc.

BUT all I got was a slow, dark and sombre social drama that made some fair points but didn’t really back them up with any substance, tension or story.

Merely a movie of moments. A shame considering the talent.

So what is it about? A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, self-image and how they communicate.

It really does sound as boring as you think. BUT it’s not a complete disaster.

The opening sequence was quite strange. A visually stunning but unnecessary tracking shot of a satellite travelling through the solar system. Eric Steelberg’s cinematography was superb (in this sequence). The wonderful Emma Thompson provided her vocal gravitas to the appropriately titled character, “Narrator”.

However, she soon blathers on about how sounds and videos were recorded in a capsule during 1977 to send out as a welcome message to extra terrestrials. Interesting. But what is the relevance?

None, apparently. It didn’t really fit in with the message or the tone of the film. Granted, the songs and messages highlighted how far we have progressed technologically to a minor extent BUT we still haven’t contacted extra-terrestrials. That we know of. If there are any. If we care. And if there are, they obviously didn’t like our noises.

BUT what does that have to do with social media impacting the everyday?

It felt a little pretentious for my liking and certainly didn’t get things going.

It eventually zipped along and was watchable. BUT the story lines and content just didn’t have enough for the two hour running length.

The only statement that I felt Reitman made well was the desensitisation and over-sexualisation of teenagers.

The scene in which a group of 16 year old cheerleaders are talking about how many men they have slept with and supposed sex acts they have inflicted was uncomfortable to listen to BUT all too true.

The fact that it is so easy for young teens to access porn and sexual images in this digital age paired with their ever-increasing hunger to grow up quicker was and still is a scary prospect.

Olivia Crocicchia was very good as the deluded Hannah Clint. A ruthless and overly ambitious young lady who will do what it takes to get what she wants. Her relationship with her mother Judy Greer was captured well and it was interesting to see the gradual change from something that seemed so innocent as a little modelling site soon becoming something much more.

Some of the story lines excelled, while others merely gave us a taster and then fizzled out into nothing really.

Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort played the outsider high school couple well, I suppose. BUT it wasn’t original or interesting. Their story line was a little stale. Hiding in the library and sneaking out to cuddle by a waterfall or river. I can’t remember. Lost interest. The closing minutes certainly came to a tense, if predictable, finale.

Jennifer Garner played Dever’s overprotective mother perfectly. Not enough of her. I was determined to see if there was more to her obsession with controlling and knowing her daughter’s whereabouts.

BUT no! The world is a terrible place and the Internet is worse. Her embargoes on the household Wi-Fi and mobile phone tracking apps certainly hinted at the cons of digital gadgetry.

The whole fear of online predators is still an important issue. Even more so with trolling and cyberbullying. BUT Reitman doesn’t even bother penning a story line featuring this shocking new development.

The whole affair felt quite dated. This would have been a lot more hard-hitting a decade ago, to be honest, when instant messaging and blogging had first popped up in the domain.

Dean Norris’ football loving dad arguing with Englert for dropping out of the team after his mum flew the coop was predictable guff. Englert’s video game obsession felt dated. I mean World of Warcraft is still a highly popular game BUT surely there’s a new one. Plus it wasn’t really explored that well.

J.K. Simmons was wasted in his role as the father in Elena Kampouris’ bulimic daughter story line. Her situation was one that should have been covered a little better. Hiding in her room trying not to eat while talking to online forums about fighting hunger pains was crazy.

Her story ended quite abruptly after hitting a crucial juncture and deserved more screen time, especially with vulnerable teens that are constantly battling with image and oversexualized music videos, media coverage and fashion magazines.

Adam Sandler was finally given another serious role and he did quite well but his character was so bland. The whole porn desensitising the average male debate was a valid point but who wants to see Mr Deeds getting hot and heavy while watching smut? Not me.

Reitman raised a good point in how teenage lads in particular will be looking for a particular woman after being subjected to such videos. Sandler’s son developing a crude taste for domination videos was a taboo that should have been explored. BUT Sandler’s character never confronts him properly about it.

In fact, he sees his son’s videos and has a bash himself. A little dark and comical BUT the tone didn’t really fit. I couldn’t tell how serious Reitman was trying to be. The film went too serious one second and satirical the next.

Sandler’s storyline was mediocre at best. It had a fair point about how couples lose intimacy and seek extra marital companionship online. The ease in what you can do on the Internet is a crazy and unsettling thing.

The affair sequences were certainly different BUT didn’t really amount to anything which was surprising, considering they “confronted” each other at the end. It just infuriated me because they seemed to blame their lost innocence from 9/11. Emphasizing how it changed everything.

I mean it could have been inappropriate timing that they changed as the world changed at that moment but I felt the reference lazy and unnecessary.

The sequences in which we see what people are texting, along with video inserts, was a nice touch. Especially when you see what people are texting about others who are in the same room.

BUT it’s hardly original. Hollyoaks milked that speech bubble text talk thing to death.

It made some good points BUT ones I’ve seen dealt with a whole lot better. It felt like a missed opportunity to expand, debate and explore new developments and how families are growing up with them.

It’s watchable BUT if you’re looking for hard-hitting, thought provoking Internet-related drama, I recommend Cyber Bully.

2.5/5 (Just)