Nightcrawler is a feature-length thriller set in Los Angeles, nearly entirely at night.
We start by following the creepy insomniac, Louis (Jake Gyllenhaal), in search of a job outside his line of work as a common thief. He is an eerie character with a menacing, unblinking, stare and strange confidence. Whilst in search of a job one evening, Louis drives past a Car crash. He pulls over to find Police and a News cameraman; he interrupts the intense scene with a job request. Louis’ approach is of course invasive and angers everyone attending the incident. Upon being declined a job Louis purchases an old camcorder and attempts self employment as a News cameraman (a Nightcrawler).
However, as with most businesses Louis discovers that he is fresh meat in a competitive rat race for a sale of his footage. He now must push himself to get the best footage and uses the advice “if it bleeds; it leads” (Gore footage will always feature as headline News). Louis takes this important tip to new levels in his attempts to sell his footage and succeed in his new job.
The film is shot almost entirely at evening/night which is a commendable effort for a filmmaker (as night shoots can be difficult for more reasons than just lighting). Lit mostly using headlights, street lamps and neon signs; a dark aesthetic is achieved which makes the film a very atmospheric experience.
This atmosphere is created by a brilliant sense of location; an element vital to a Thriller but unfortunately not often achieved. By this, I mean you will have a true experience of speeding through LA, using a mobile GPS and Police radio to guide you from incident to incident. Scenes outside the car are more intense and gripping, as Louis approaches horrendous accidents unannounced and uninvited.
The soundtrack is mostly electronic with an ominous and brooding mood, this fits perfectly as Louis drives around LA at night. During the more intense scenes, however, the soundtrack uses more aggressive instrumentation such as heavy drums and guitar synthesizers. This adds to the undeniably tense scenes as Louis attempts to record the best footage possible.
Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler is intensely disturbing as he plays an undeniably intelligent but ruthless character. Fans of Gyllenhaal may appreciate that the character, Louis, is quite similar to Donnie from Donnie Darko (2001), given the eerie stare and slight insomnia.
Nightcrawler is a fantastic Dark thriller that boasts itself as one of the best, of many, strong independent films from 2014. It has been nominated for Best original screenplay in this year’s Academy awards and Gyllenhaal has been nominated for many awards including a Golden globe and a BAFTA. The dark scenes and brilliant photography demand a full High definition viewing so be sure to watch it in a local cinema or on Blu Ray.