The creepiest character appearing on film this Halloween isn’t some psycho with an axe or some evil doll or drooling zombie.
It’s Jake Gyllenhaal with a video camera.
Gyllenhaal stars as Louis Bloom, a bug-eyed, cold and calculating misfit who finds his calling in the cut-throat world of video news in the new crime thriller “Nightcrawler.”
When we first encounter Bloom he’s selling stolen wire and metal to a construction manager. When he tries to sell himself as a possible new employee, the manager states that he doesn’t hire thieves.
Later that evening Bloom comes across an accident scene where he meets Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), a freelance videographer who stalks the night hunting crimes and accidents to film for local television news.
Loder’s not interested in a new hire either so Bloom buys a video camera, hires an assistant (Riz Ahmed) and goes into business for himself. He finds an ally in Nina (Rene Russo), the news director at a low-rated Los Angeles television station. Nina feels Bloom has an eye for provocative shots and doesn’t care about the unscrupulous methods he often uses to get them.
Things get darker and darker as Bloom goes deeper and deeper into the world of crime/tabloid journalism. Things reach their height (or is it depth?) when Bloom arrives at a murder scene before the police and tries to turn the situation into a career-making event for himself.
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler” is a bleak, dark, yet compelling work that paints another damning portrait of journalism (as if “Kill the Messenger” was not enough). Gilroy does an impressive job presenting this ugly, gritty slice of life on the streets of LA. It’s a slow burn with occasional dark humor that builds to a truly tense series of scenes near the end.
At the center of it all is Jake Gyllenhaal, who gives a terribly creepy, totally intriguing performance. Bloom is captivating and unnerving with his calm demeanor and confident lecturing and perpetually wide eyes.
“Nightcrawler” isn’t a horror movie in the traditional sense but it’s plenty unsettling.