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Rated 2.96 stars
by 367 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Intensely Enthralling
by Diana Saenger

Open Road Films could not have opened their new film Nightcrawler on any better night than October 31. It’s a real fright! Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) could be a modern werewolf, Dracula, or Frankenstein. He has no value or respect for human life.

We meet Lou when he’s making a living at night by stealing bicycles and breaking into construction sites to steal such things as manhole covers or cover wire. He has regular buyers set up all over town. Lou is cold, inpatient, and without family or friends. 

One night while prowling around, he watches independent news cameraman Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) cover an accident and phone a local TV station, then settle for a $600 payment for his video. After asking Joe several questions, Lou replies, “Thank you for taking the time to discuss what you do.”

The next day, Lou steals an expensive bike and sells it for cash plus a nice camera and scanner. He’s set to become what Joe calls one of the “nightcrawlers” – freelancers who roam the city after dark, camera ready for a perfect shot that TV stations drool over.

When Lou walks blind into a station and pitches his work to Nina (Rene Russo) – a producer who decides what goes live on-air – she remarks about his keen eye for gore. “I want something people can’t turn away from,” she says. Lou hangs on her every word, mentally storing the lingo of the trade in his manipulating mind, but also becoming attracted to Nina.

The more Lou shows up at crime or accident scenes, the more his competition gets annoyed. Lou will sneak by cops who tell him to leave, and when that doesn’t work, he becomes part of the source of the tragedies. The film grows darker, and it seems obvious that Lou is a sociopath. This feeling may be the result of Gyllenhaal becoming a dark character we have not seen him play before. Lou has huge eyes and rarely blinks. He analyzes everything like he could eat it for lunch. He pushes his way into Nina’s life in weird and scary ways. But he’s smart in every one of these endeavors.

Soon Lou has earned so much money he buys a new red sports car and hires Rick (Riz Ahmed) as his partner.  Rick’s assignment involves plugging the crime scene addresses into the GPS and telling Lou – while driving at a high speed – where to turn so they are first on scene.

Director / Writer Dan Gilroy’s screenplay is a rare thing indeed. It’s fascinating, and the characters are so fully drawn they feel real. As Lou falls deeper into the cameraman snare, watching the film becomes more and more uneasy. But it’s impossible to take one’s eyes off the screen. 

Russo (Gilroy’s wife) deserves mention here. She does a great job revealing surprise, fear, and intrigue in the role of Nina. Cinematographer Robert Elswit also earns special recognition. His beautiful shots keep the story breathing yet deadly. Elswit knows how to excel in this type of film. For example, he won the 2007 Academy-Award for Best Achievement in Cinematography for another creepy but excellent movie, There Will Be Blood.

WARNING: Get your snack before the movie starts. You won’t want to miss a moment of this film.

(Released by Open Road Films and rated “R” for violence including graphic images, and for language.)

Review also posted at

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