Jake Gyllenhaal really seems to be spending a lot of time in the dark lately. The actor starred in two films in 2013, and neither of which could remotely be construed as “happy” stories. Prisoners explored the considerable moral perils involved with seeking revenge, while Enemy was a psycho-sexual examination of the age-old fear of losing one’s identity. Gyllenhaal must be enjoying the challenges these type of roles bring, as his next effort, Nightcrawler, takes him straight into the underbelly of what is simultaneously regarded as one of the most glamorous and one of the most dangerous cities in the world: Los Angeles.

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy), Nightcrawler is a crime thriller centering on one Lou Bloom, an extremely driven man looking for a career he can really sink his teeth into.

After a long, desperate search, Lou (played by a noticeably gaunt Gyllenhaal) stumbles upon the world of nocturnal crime journalism, and soon finds himself capturing incredibly horrific images of the aftermath of various crimes. Unfortunately, Lou isn’t exactly the most mentally balanced person in the world, and the further he descends into the underworld of L.A., the further away he drifts from sanity.

Gyllenhaal was famously forced to get stitches in his hand after violently punching a mirror during the filming of an intense Nightcrawler scene – a scene briefly glimpsed above – and his performance in the trailer really puts across just how emotionally volatile and morally compromised Lou Bloom really is. This is perhaps best emphasized by the montage of Bloom reciting his personal motto of “If you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket.” Each delivery of the line steadily builds in intensity, moving from perfectly pleasant, to slightly off kilter, to outwardly strange, to downright threatening.

Heading up Nightcrawler’s supporting cast are Hollywood vets Rene Russo and Bill Paxton, who both briefly appear in the trailer. Russo plays Nina, the TV station boss who eventually employs Lou as a crime photographer. Details on Paxton’s role are currently unclear, and his appearance in the trailer does nothing to clear things up. Still, we do at least know that Paxton can grow a sharp-looking goatee.

Prisoners and Enemy were both very well received by critics, with Gyllenhaal’s lead performances receiving top marks as well. Will Nightcrawler make the former Donnie Darko three for three in the critical acclaim department (as far as his recent movies are concerned)? That remains to be seen, but Lou Bloom’s thoughts on the matter would likely be this: you can’t win an award without making a film that deserves to get nominated.

Nightcrawler arrives in theaters on October 17, 2014.

Source: Open Road Films