Vee (Emma Roberts), is a hard-working high school student just a little bit bored with her life and where it’s heading. The solution? An online game where Watchers set challenges and Players act them out for real (and for money).
Considering her first challenge is to kiss cool dude stranger Ian (Dave Franco), maybe she should be paying them. At first, the challenges are fairly straightforward and mostly fun dares, but it doesn’t take long for things to turn nasty and for the stakes to become all-too-real.
Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (here adapting a young adult novel) made the 2010 documentary Catfish so they’re well across the dark side of the internet, and while the various challenges are exciting to watch in their own right, it’s this film’s attitude towards technology that’s the really interesting part.
Social media messages often fill the screen and the overall effect at times feels like you’re watching a film while doing half a dozen other things on a laptop. It doesn’t hurt that the film’s version of New York is an almost video-gamey neon metropolis that gives their early antics a fun feel before things get heavy in the usual “the internet is a two-edged sword” fashion. It’s lightweight and silly, but for once that’s not a bad thing.
Reviewed by Anthony Morris