Catfish directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman prove they still have their fingers on the digital pulse with this fast-moving teen thriller about an online dare game.

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Nerve Emma Roberts Dave Franco

Exploiting social media’s seductive pull and insidious grip to dramatic effect, nippy teen thriller Nerve will strike a chord with its target audience.

Many, too, will identify with Emma Roberts’ shy heroine Vee, a timid Staten Island high school student who steps perilously out of her comfort zone when she signs up for an online dare game that incites its players to complete ever more outlandish dares on camera in return for cash sums and online followers. Egged on by this community of anonymous watchers, Vee hooks up with Dave Franco’s cute fellow player Ian and discovers that the deeper into the game they get, the more dangerous it becomes.

For its first two-thirds, Nerve zips along with engaging verve. Roberts and Franco, though a tad old for their roles, make empathetic leads and directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (makers of Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3 and 4) give the action a slick energy. Things do fall off in the closing stages, and the story’s resolution doesn’t bear the slightest scrutiny, but until then the film hits the right balance between escapist thrills and alarmist admonitions.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 92 mins. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Nerve is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Lionsgate.