Screenwriter Dan Gilroy makes a ferocious directorial debut with Nightcrawler (which he also wrote), a unique hybrid of ghoulish comedy, L.A. noir, news media satire, and urban horror. Jake Gyllenhaal is blistering as Louis Bloom, a wiry, bug-eyed go-getter, and plausible descendant of The King of Comedy's Rupert Pupkin, except with a proclivity for messing with the maimed and deceased. Stumbling upon the world of nightcrawling, in which opportunistic freelancers film nocturnal crime or crash scenes to sell to the morning news, he blurs the line between scavenging observer and active participant. In the process he forms a relationship, both mutually beneficial and destructive, with a TV news veteran (Russo) eager to show whatever will horrify suburban viewers, so long as it helps her station's fledgling ratings.
Much of Nightcrawler is spent in a car with Lou and subordinate 'intern' Rick (Ahmed) speeding through the night in the search of suffering, in scenes that blend Drive, Cronenberg's Crash and the work of Michael Mann into one creepy, neon-lit cocktail. Gilroy's handling of suspense and forays into action sequences (including a car chase chase) pulsate like the work of an established pro, and, outside of Gyllenhaal's sociopath shark, he also gets great turns from Ahmed and Russo, the latter savouring what's unfairly the first decent role she's had in 15 years. Skin crawling stuff.