Release date: November 7, 2014 (India)
Directed by: Dan Gilroy

Night crawler (noun) [North American]

  • 1. an earthworm that comes to the surface at night and is used as fishing bait.
  • 2. informal
    a person who is socially active at night.
    “the bar and nightclub are hot items with chic night crawlers”


Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is also a worm like figure that comes to the surface at night, except he isn’t the bait. The titular creature here is Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) in his rusty car.

Bloom is an unemployed loner who makes his living off stealing, but wants to ‘create a career’ and starts looking for jobs. On his way back home, he comes across a road accident and sees two independent cameramen record the footage. He begins chasing them and has a new inspiration to live. He learns by shadowing other freelancers and soon his camera never stops rolling, just like his eyes never blink.

He lands a deal with Nina (Rene Russo) at a news channel with low ratings; Nina tells him that her channel is like a screaming woman running down the street with her head cut. She mouths words into her anchors’ ears, totally in control of her sensationalist news coverage. Louis becomes incessantly ruthless with his competition and manipulates the crime scenes into picture perfect news materials.

His urge to succeed, while belting out management jargon learned over his hours of study of the internet puts him in positions where he willingly lets go of his integrity, or even humanity. Nina pushes him further, cutting out resistance from her own juniors. Louis is a sociopath, and we don’t know why. His conversations with his assistant, are a cracker and even his incredibly creepy proposal to Nina sounds hilarious, once you’re in the Louis-zone.


Jake Gyllenhaal in his reduced frame with his already gaping eyes is the impeccable embodiment of a slimy footage collector, who keeps shooting no matter what happens. His character could very well be a metaphor for the modern news outlets which keep recording, be it a shooting or a public sexual offense, and just aim at selling it as a piece of story for ratings. The impassionate performances of Riz Ahmed as Rick, the clueless young intern under Bloom and Rene Russo as the vulnerable news director further elevate Gyllenhaal’s presence.

Nightcrawler with its graphic description of the excesses of the media isn’t a thorough commentary, nor it is a lesson in profound character study; even though the film is expansively only character-driven. The shocks in the plot are cold-blooded, yet not surprising. You never get to know how vain exactly the protagonist is, as there aren’t any moments where his intentions or ideas are manifested, except in the situations the screenplay creates. The film limits itself at just that, like the news on TV, it chills you but doesn’t tug at you with a stronger gravitational pull.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

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