“Nightcrawler” explores the dark and grotesque

Jackson French

While not quite a horror movie, “Nightcrawler” oozes with terror. This dark, crime thriller explores the career of an enigmatic and psychotic young man who starts recording violent crime with a video camera. The riveting tale takes audiences on a journey fraught with terror, suspense and the kind of humor that makes one laugh and cringe at the same time. 

Few movies instill this sort of discomfort in the viewer. Jake Gyllenhaal holds movie-goers prisoner with his blood-chilling portrayal of the film’s remorseless protagonist. He bounces back and forth between socially awkward and truly frightening, but he never lets the viewer relax. This isn’t the sort of movie built on a relatable main character. Instead, “Nightcrawler” chronicles a coldly calculating menace whose manipulation of others is spellbinding.

Though Gyllenhaal’s performance is the main attraction, “Nightcrawler” boasts an appropriately dark and gritty atmosphere. The shootouts and violent images have an impactful ferocity to them, and every time Gyllenhaal has to rush to the scene of a crime or an accident packs the movie with plenty of suspense.


“Nightcrawler” remains ambiguous as to what it wants throughout its runtime. Though not hard to follow, the viewer can never quite figure out where the story is heading. It’s not the kind of movie interested in nicely tying up all the loose ends. The film ends abruptly, and makes it feel as though there’s a final scene missing. The presentation will keep you nervously guessing throughout.  

With nail-biting suspense constantly in the mix, “Nightcrawler” is a thrilling but thought-provoking ride. As a disturbing examination of journalistic ethics and our own fascination with the grotesque as well a portrait of insanity, this movie gives you something to think about when you leave the theater.