Patrick Bateman is probably the most famous sociopath to grace the big screen. Masterfully played by Christian Bale, his total contempt, hatred or disregard for other people was only matched by his ultra self-confidence and oily charm. Hannibal Lecter is partial to people, but only if they’re served with some fava beans and a big Amarone. Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is the anti-hero In Nightcrawler whose total disregard for human life or other people is skin-creepily frightening.
When down on his luck Lou Bloom witnesses a car crash, and meets a “stringer” who films the grizzly aftermath, he decides on a change of career. He recruits Ray (Riz Ahmed) as his assistant as sets out with the help of a cheap camcorder, police scanner and GPS. Lou starts taking his footage to KWLA, a local TV Station, and eventually comes to a deal with the News Editor (Rene Russo) who desperately needs to boost their ratings. However, the increasing demand for better and bloodier footage and growing competition drives Lou to take more and more risks, not to mention liberties.
Dan Gilroy’s first film is an unsettling thriller which works so well due to a brilliant performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. He really embodies all the traits of a sociopath with scary realism. It’s fast paced and snappily edited; keeping you gripped to the action on screen. Gilroy never passes up a chance to linger over Bloom’s oily face which changes between malevolence and practised insincerity. Lou is not someone who you can empathise with. He is an intrinsically unlikeable character. The epitome of modern horror.
Nightcrawler is out in cinemas now.