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9 Movies like Nightcrawler: Disturbed Loner Films

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Michael Taylor itcherNightcrawler is a chilling thriller featuring a disturbed anti-hero. Likewise, let’s look at some other films exploring the dark side of human nature, including Taxi Driver, Maniac and The Conversation. ~ Michael Taylor

“I like to say if you see me, you’re having the worst day of your life.”

Those are the chilling words of Louis Bloom, played to creepy perfection by Jake Gyllenhaal in director Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler.
 
He’s a drifter who’s finally discovered his true calling: filming grisly accident footage for the nightly news. Bloom pursues his career outside the bounds of decency and the law, making for an unsettling success story.
Nightcrawler follows a rich lineage of films featuring troubled isolated characters whose disdain for society leads to tragic consequences.
I’ve always been fascinated by such thrillers. Why? Perhaps it’s my attempt to make order out of chaos in a world filled with real life troubled souls who can snap at any moment.
So, if you’re looking for other dark character studies, here are some films similar to Nightcrawler that are worth a look.
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Movies Similar to ‘Nightcrawler’…

‘Collateral’ (Michael Mann, 2004)

Mann is a master of exploring L.A.’s seedy underbelly, and Collateral is no exception. Tom Cruise plays Vincent, a businessman escorted across the city by Max, a cabbie played by Jamie Foxx. But Max soon realizes Vincent is a hitman racking up a body count while the meter is running.

Collateral’s use of digital cameras shows nighttime Los Angeles in remarkable clarity, and it shows Vincent in many shades of gray.

Similarity Match: 90%
Vincent, like Bloom is a moonlit L.A. predator, priding himself on his professionalism, but blind to his psychotic behavior.

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‘Taxi Driver’ (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is the most iconic loner in cinematic history. A paranoid former Vietnam Vet repulsed by his fellow New York City citizens, his motto is: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.

He yearns to be that cleansing force, attempting to save a young prostitute from her lecherous pimp. But his psychotic delusions leave him incapable of seeing that he’s another facet of societal decay, leading to a bloody conclusion.

Similarity Match: 80%
Like Bloom, Bickle sees only the worst in society, but he’d rather purify it by violence than profit off its misfortune. The film shows both Scorsese and De Niro at the peak of their powers.

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‘The Conversation’ (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, an antisocial surveillance expert whose detached demeanor unravels when he unearths a potential murder plot.

His sense of guilt and paranoia reach a fever pitch when his dubious profession blows up in his face.

Similarity Match: 80%
Like Nightcrawler, The Conversation is a masterful commentary on the ethical fallout of a profession built on voyeurism. But Caul has a moral compass that Bloom lacks.

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‘Drive’ (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)

Like Nightcrawler, Drive makes the landscape of L.A. an integral part of the storyline.

Ryan Gosling plays a stoic getaway driver out for blood after a heist goes bad. He’a a force of vengeance against those who wronged him, and a protector for a mother and son he feels sworn to save. It’s a left-of-center crime flick with a dazzling retro 80’s score.

For other movies similar to ‘Drive’, please click here.

Similarity Match: 75%
Drive’s loner is more honorable than Nightcrawler’s Bloom, but its L.A. backdrop and paranoid isolation make for a great companion piece

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‘The King of Comedy’ (Martin Scorsese, 1982)

Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is an aspiring comedian whose ascendance to fame is thwarted by lack of talent and psychotic delusion. He dreams of making it big on The Jerry Langford Show, but Langford (Jerry Lewis) rebuffs his needy advances.

When Pupkin’s fantasy world collapses, he decides to take reckless measures to achieve fame.

Similarity Match: 70%
While both films share dark humor and Pupkin is as manically driven for recognition as Bloom, his incompetence makes him a lesser predator. The King of Comedy remains one of Scorsese’s oddest concoctions.

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‘Maniac’ (Franck Khalfoun, 2012)

This slick remake of William Lustig’s scuzzy 1980 slasher flick features Frank Zito (Elijah Wood), another Los Angeles sociopath left deeply traumatized by memories of his late mother’s days in prostitution. He (naturally) becomes a serial killer of beautiful young women. But can he keep his impulses at bay when he finally falls in love?

Maniac is a visually audacious work, almost entirely shot from Frank’s POV, making us an unwilling yet visually complicit participant in his carnage.

Similarity Match: 70%
Unlike Nightcrawler’s Bloom, Frank is hampered by his dark urges, although both share the same bleak worldview.

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If You Like ‘Nightcrawler’, You Will Like…

The above movies are all seen through the dark prism of their lead characters. Here are two films featuring troubled loners in a more objective and humorous light.

‘The Guest’ (Adam Wingard, 2014)

When soldier David Collins meets the Peterson family, he claims to have served with their son who died in combat, and offers to comfort them in their time of grief. But he’s also a troubled soul on the run from his superiors, and harbours a killer instinct that’s alternately protective and threatening to the Peterson clan.

The Guest borrows from films like The Terminator and Halloween, but creates something fresh in the process, full of biting wit, suspense and 80’s-esque visuals.

***
‘Falling Down’ (Joel Schumacher, 1993)

Michael Douglas plays William Foster, whose world collapses after his wife slaps a restraining order against him and he loses his job.

He violently takes his frustrations out on the greater L.A. area, pursued by a tenacious police Sargent (Robert Duvall) hell-bent on stopping his reign of terror.

Everyone has bad days, and Falling Down offers cinematic catharsis for our darkest frustrations.

***
‘Prisoners’ (Denis Villeneuve, 2013)

Here’s a chance to see Gyllenhaal in a dark thriller in a heroic light. 

He plays an obsessed detective in pursuit of two abducted children, leading to a maddening race against time to discover the disturbing truth about their disappearance.

Prisoners is a white-knuckle ride from to start to finish, a harrowing journey into dark human behavior with an ending that will haunt you for days.

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What Do you Think?

So, those are my recommendations for other movies like Nightcrawler. If you’re looking for a film to start with, Taxi Driver is the perfect misanthropic thriller; there would be no Nightcrawler without its influence.

So buckle up for some dark and thrilling cinematic rides… if you dare!

What other films about dark, disturbed loners would you add to the list?
Tell us in the comments.
My name is Michael Taylor and I′m your go-to source for finding the best in Alternative rock in all its various genres, such as Goth, Grunge, Post-punk, Shoegaze, Britpop and Electronica, with some metal thrown in for good measure. Film-wise, I′m all about sci-fi and horror, comic book movies, and cult classics. I love checking out all the best concerts and film events in my hometown of Austin, TX. I′ve written for sites such as Cracked, and I cover all my various pop culture obsessions on my site smellslikeinfinitesadness.com
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