Australian Council on Children and the Media

Nerve

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Not recommended under 15 due to themes, violence and substance use.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Nerve
  • a review of Nerve completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 5 September 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to themes, violence and substance use
Children 15 and over OK for this age group although parents may wish to discuss the issues raised.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Nerve
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: mature themes
Length 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Nerve is a techno-thriller based on a novel of the same name. The film centres on an online reality ‘truth or dare’ video game, where individuals are able to enter as either ‘players’ or ‘watchers’.

High-school yearbook photographer Vee (Emma Roberts) is living a quiet life after the death of her older brother, making conservative and safe choices and rarely taking risks of any kind. One day, her outgoing and adventurous best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) tells her about an online game called ‘Nerve’, where players can accept dares from watchers, and receive monetary 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 revoked if players fail or do not 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 become too intense, she decides to inform law enforcement about the existence of the game. However, they do nothing in response and Vee subsequently loses all the money from her bank account as a punishment. Vee, with the support of her friend Sydney, attempts to find an alternative way of ending the game without any more harm being done.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in the film, including:

  • Many characters participate in dangerous and risky dares. These involve behaviours such as hanging from the ledge of bridges, reckless driving, jumping over bonfires, lying underneath a moving train, etc.
  • There is discussion between two characters about another individual who attempted to complete a dare and died in the process.
  • There is one scene where a character is driving a motorcycle whilst blindfolded – they are driving very fast through city streets.
  • There are instances where characters are physically injured (e.g. punched), and kidnapped or held against their will.
  • There are scenes where characters use guns, and threaten to shoot other people.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

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

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violent scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the violent scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the violent scenes described above.

Product placement

  • Internet sites such as Facebook, Amazon
  • Constant use of devices including iPhones and other smartphones

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Teenage characters discuss having sex and ‘sleeping around’.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual content and nudity, including:

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

Use of substances

There is some use of substances within the film, including:

  • Teenage characters are seen to be drinking alcoholic beverages at parties. Several characters appear to be intoxicated.
  • There is some discussion about using drugs to ‘get high’, and there is an instance where a character is smoking (however, it is unclear if this is a cigarette or marijuana).

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in the film, including:

  • The word ‘fuck’ is spelled out (using asterisks); ‘shit’; ‘ass’; ‘dick’; ‘bitch’

In a nutshell

Nerve is a thriller about teenage behaviour online that highlights a range of very current and socially relevant concerns. The movie illustrates how online anonymity can encourage individuals to behave in unsafe or unethical ways and avoid responsibility. It explores the ways in which peer pressure and the concept of ‘group think’ can be dangerous by ensuring that no individual feels obligated to take responsibility for things that a group might be doing. The film also shows the need for courage in the face of obstacles, and the importance of supportive friendships.

The film’s M rating for ‘mature themes’ is justified and the film also has scenes of violence and substance use that may concern parents. It is therefore not recommended for viewers under 15.

Parents of teens may wish to discuss the issues raised by the film, including:

  • The dangerous consequences of risky and violent behaviour – the film questions whether such behaviours are glamorous and ‘cool’, or whether they are simply harmful to the individuals and others in their lives.
  • The intensity and consequences of peer pressure, and the dangerous impacts of going along with a group mentality.
  • Internet and online safety, and the impact that internet trolling can have upon individuals.

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