The new movie, NIGHTCRAWLER is a disturbing melodrama about the dark side of the TV news business in Los Angeles.
The movie focuses on Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a jobless, petty thief who discovers that he can videotape violent crime scenes and bloody car accidents and sell the footage to a local TV station in L.A. He gets the idea when he sees two cameramen shooting video of the aftermath of a bad car accident.
Lou: Will this be on television?
Cameraman: Morning news. If it bleeds, it leads.
“If it bleeds, it leads” is a line repeated a lot in TV news. Studies show and ratings suggest that large numbers of people are fascinated by graphic video of gruesome scenes.
And NIGHTCRAWLER is a harsh melodrama that aims to show how that an obsession with capturing that kind of sensationalism can spur a videographer into immoral, unethical behavior and even cause the deaths of innocent people.
At first Louis Bloom seems like a decent, eager young guy who gets hold of a video camera and a scanner and meets a TV news person who will buy his footage.
Renee Russo is Nina, an L.A. morning show producer who's looking for more hard news.
Nina: Think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.
Lou: I understand.
It isn't long before Lou takes on an assistant who helps him navigate the night time roadways. And Lou is not hesitant about doing whatever is necessary to get a better shot: dragging a body out from under a car or secretly entering the homes of crime victims.
We soon discover Lou is a glib sociopath who has no feeling for anyone but himself.
Lou (to Nina): A man was shot several times. I'd be surprised if he survived. (He chuckles.)
And it gets worse.
Lou's irresponsible behavior eventually descends to the level of criminal acts that put several people in harm's way.
Detective: I think you withheld information.
Lou: That would be a very unprofessional thing for me to do.
Detective: That would be murder.
NIGHTCRAWLER is a polished, very well acted movie, but it's also disturbing and almost sickening to watch especially since its clear implication is that the public's appetite for the sensational is partly to blame for creating despicable nightcrawlers like Louis Bloom.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now firstname.lastname@example.org