Would you risk a fiver on a ticket for a mystery film?
Screen Unseen – a new initiative from Odeon – offers movie fans the opportunity to attend exclusive preview screenings of upcoming releases. The twist is that the identity of the film is kept under wraps until the opening credits roll.
“Screen Unseen films are not your typical Hollywood fare. These are films that are edgy, intriguing, controversial, thought-provoking, maybe even challenging – but never ordinary. Films that people will be talking about for weeks, months, years to come. Films that stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Through Screen Unseen, you’ll be among the very first to see these future classics, and at a specially discounted price. And to make things even more enticing, you won’t know what film you’ll be watching until the curtain goes up for the show. How’s that for tantalising?”
We had the chance to buy tickets for the inaugural Screen Unseen last night and decided it was worth a punt. Our gamble paid off as the film turned out to be the brilliant thriller Nightcrawler.
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler follows the exploits of unscrupulous ambulance chaser Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he trawls the LA streets at night, shooting questionable footage of crime and carnage to sell to a local TV news channel hungry for a ratings boost.
Right from the outset you get the uncomfortable feeling there’s something a little off about Lou, what with his gaunt features, lank hair, bug eyes and tendency to launch into a monologue. Highly motivated and completely lacking in empathy, Lou thinks nothing of tampering with a crime scene to get the perfect shot that will entice news producer Nina (Rene Russo) to part with some cash. Consequently, his modus operandi is often to the detriment of those who cross his path, including a rival film crew and his twitchy intern Rick, played by Riz Ahmed as the only vaguely sympathetic character in the entire film.
Heart thumping and dark, Nightcrawler is an engrossing piece of cinema. But there are flashes of real humour too: Rick’s interview for the internship and Lou’s tendency to parrot stuff he’s read on the internet. Gyllenhaal is on top form as super-creepy Lou, ratcheting up the tension once his sociopathic tendencies start to take hold. Word is that he went a bit method to get into the role – shedding vast amounts of weight and shunning his mates – but clearly it worked. Lou is a deeply flawed but compelling character to watch. Another Oscar nomination to follow?
Nightcrawler will be in UK cinemas from 31 October. In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that Screen Unseen has started with an absolute five-star bang.