Nerve (2011) – By Jon Reino

Festival favorite, Nerve, is the new feature film from up and coming director J.R. Sawyers. It follows socially distant Josh as he partakes in an experiment led by a psychology student to help break him out of his shell. In the process of leaving his comfort zone, Josh accidentally welcomes a group of hobos into his apartment who proceed to live on his couch for weeks, much to the surprise of his new "psychologist" and the dismay of his roommate.

The dialog writing is fantastic. The film truly shines in seemingly irrelivant dialog and random encounters. More than once I laughed uncontrollably at completely random hilarious lines, particularly ones I can not quote in the review (trust me, they are hilarious). The is a nicely balanced combination of comedy and drama, and the timing and delivery is spot on. Hobos and random characters provide the strongest comedy, while his relationship with his new psychologist friend provides substantial drama.

The story is interesting, although a little loose. His diagnosed social anxiety comes off more like mild shyness that true medical social anxiety, and his responses to social situations are too diverse to be medically accurate. That being said, all other aspects of the film are pretty good. The acting is not phenomenal, but gets the job done. The cinematography is acceptable, but many movements are a bit twitchy. The editing is also good, as is the sound mixing. As a whole, the production of the film is good but not great. The only real complaint is that some of the set design, specifically the bars in the film, are obviously built set-ups and do not quite pass for a real bar.

If the budget had a little more wiggle room for production design and some better equipment, the film could have been substantially better. The little things where corners were cut are what hold this feature back from being a great film. Particularly the cinematography and the scenes that were obviously not shot on location, a little bit more money could have gone a long way.

Overall, this is a good film. It delivers good drama with some great laughs, and definitely succeeds in entertaining the viewer. The film has screened at New Filmmakers New York and the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival to great reviews, and is known for being a fantastic example of what shoestring budget films can do. The film is well written and a good pick for someone looking for something a little quirky and different. The film is already available on DVD for a very affordable price, and will be available on Video On Demand this August. It is definitely worth checking out, so keep an eye out for the film, and keep your eye out for upcoming projects from J.R. Sawyers.