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Nightcrawler will make your skin crawl

This is not a superhero or vigilante movie – expect to be unnerved

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Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the unsettling protagonist Lou Bloom

When Nightcrawler’s trailer was launched, many expected a movie about a man who moonlights as a crime-busting hero.

It shows amateur videographer Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) camping out at late-night crime scenes, hoping to film the victim or even the attack on his handy camcorder:

The movie title shares the name of a Marvel Comics mutant, and with the talented Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, The Day After Tomorrow) as the face of Nightcrawler, it’s easy to mistake this film for a vigilante or superhero flick.

But I assure you, it doesn’t even come close to that. In fact, it’s the total, unsettling opposite.

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Bloom intrudes upon crime scenes to film close-up footages of victims

Up All Night to Get Lucky

When Bloom discovers that his crime-watch videos can fetch big bucks at his local news station, he gets greedy about his coverage. Obviously, getting inside a crime scene is nigh impossible when you’re sporting a giant camera – but that doesn’t stop him.

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In an invasion of privacy, Bloom sneaks into victims’ houses to film crime scenes

Desperate to muscle into the scene, he breaks into victims’ houses for his exclusive shots, which get more and more titillating and unsettling.

But what happens when simply filming the aftermath isn’t enough?

Make and Break the News

As the movie progresses, Bloom’s psychopathy is slowly revealed, and we are forced to watch him relentlessly challenge the boundaries of ethics and sanity.

He values filming his exclusive over helping the injured victims. In one case, he even lets the killers go in order to orchestrate and film their arrest.

One scene in particular sent chills rattling down my spine. A news anchor describes Bloom’s footage on TV, explaining that Bloom had rushed to the scene to render aid. The camera, however, shows a close-up of Bloom smiling sadistically at his masterpiece.

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Bloom’s true nature is exposed when he confronts TV director Nina Romina (Rene Russo)

Gyllenhaal Redeemed?

Since Gyllenhaal’s disappointing performance in 2010 box office flop Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, the actor has bounced back with a myriad of positively-received titles.

From French-American sci-fi hit Source Code in 2011 to the award-winning thriller Prisoners in 2013, he has put his good face to great acting.

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Bloom remorselessly pushes the limits of crime and reporting

With Gyllenhaal’s flawless portrayal of Nightcrawler’s disturbingly calm and manipulative Bloom, I believe this is his Renaissance. It is hard to convince the audience to hate a character, to grow cold with dreading anticipation, and to shiver from start to finish.

Well, I shuddered throughout the movie, and not because it was chilly in the cinema. So, good job, Gyllenhaal.

By Pamela Chow

Nightcrawler [PG13]

Director: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed
Genre: Thriller
Run Length: 117 min
Release: 4 Dec

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