The 87% Rotten Tomatoes rating earned by Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler (Open Road, 10.30) makes it easily the best-reviewed new film opening on Halloween weekend. This, of course, means zip to Joe and Jane Popcorn. They’ll see whatever they want to see, quality be damned, and most handicappers are guessing they’ll mainly be attracted to something that sounds more routinely spooky. Maybe Horns (63%) or the Saw revival (48%) or the dreadful sounding Before I Go To Sleep (54%) or The ABCS of Death 2. How do you get through to people who insist on seeing films that will make them feel like shit or at the very least burned? Answer: You can’t. Their minds are on lockdown. Throw up your hands.
New Yorker illustration by Boris Pelcer.
Oh, you could try repeating that Nightcrawler is all that matters this weekend…that it’s manic and furious and reckless, that it’s a high-speed L.A. adrenaline flick you’ll never forget because it feels so damned unusual and perverse, and that it’s spooky in a real-world way, and that Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Lou, a freelance news-video hound, is as much of a generic Halloween-type character as Lon Chaney‘s Phantom of the Opera or Max Schreck‘s Nosferatu.
“The scariest thing about the new Jake Gyllenhaal film, Nightcrawler, is Jake Gyllenhaal,” writes New Yorker critic Anthony Lane in an issue dated 11.3.14. “Or, to be precise, Jake Gyllenhaal’s eyes. They are sunk in their sockets. They have dispensed with blinking, and you can understand why; it would mean missing something important. They glare and they gleam, like the eyes of a man who is minutes away from death, furious with fever, and refusing to slip away in peace.”