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Unveiling Realistic Horror in Nocturnal Animals (2016)

'Nocturnal Animals' serves as a cautionary tale.

By Marielle SabbagPublished 4 months ago 3 min read

Who do you envision as characters when reading a book?

Based on the novel written by Austin Wright, Nocturnal Animals is a 2016 film. Susan Morrow, a successful art gallery owner, receives a haunting manuscript from her estranged ex-husband. While reading the gripping tale, she is forced to confront the dark truths of her past.

Nocturnal Animals is a haunting and complex story. This film is unsettling and it was tough to watch. As a writer, it makes you think about what events from your life and people you’ve put into your stories. The film is an exploration of emotions that linger beneath the surface of our lives.

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal are two exceptional actors. Both have conquered visceral performances in a range of films. Adams and Gyllenhaal conquer raw and stellar performances, manifesting subtle or devastating emotions.

Susan Morrow is a successful art gallery owner who delivers into the pages of her ex-husband’s new novel. Adams did a remarkable job with the characters' countenance and emotions in the contents of this heavy story.

Jake Gyllenhaal had the opportunity to play two roles. As the main character Susan envisions in the novel, Tony’s life crumbles, leaving him in shambles. Gyllenhaal’s emotions are riveting and heartbreaking.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s performance is the exact definition of visceral performance. I couldn't believe that this was the same actor who played Tangerine from Bullet Train. Ray Marcus is a menacing predator who does awful things to any individual in his path. He leaves a lasting impression on audiences for sure.

Nocturnal Animals also include the talents of Michael Shannon, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Karl Glussman, and Andrea Riseborough.

The film’s narrative structure is one of the film’s greatest strengths. The film weaves a unique narrative structure I want to see more films do. Tom Ford skillfully interweaves Susan’s present-day with the events of the novel. It creates a sense of unease and tension.

Speaking of the tension, Nocturnal Animals is not an easy film to sit through. After watching, I really needed to sit down and watch something lighthearted. Like Susan, it’s a good idea to take a break from the awful themes in the story.

The most uncomfortable scene in the film is when Tony’s family is confronted by a gang of men. What proceeds throughout this scene involves threatening behavior and triggering themes. Rape, death, and guilt are the film’s prominent themes.

Nocturnal Animals delves into the lasting impact of our past actions. In a way, Susan’s time reading her ex-husband’s novel evokes a healing process.

The cinematography of Nocturnal Animals is visually stunning. The set design and art direction are also noteworthy, as they help establish the distinct atmospheres of the two narratives. The gritty, desolate landscape of the novel's world is a stark contrast to the sleek, modernist aesthetic of Susan's life, reinforcing the stark divide between her past and present.

The horror of Nocturnal Animals is realistic. What’s awful is that events like these actually happen. Nocturnal Animals serves as a cautionary tale. Be careful when you’re out on the road. You never know what could happen. And most importantly, make the right decisions.

There’s also some nudity, like the beginning which is a strange way to start this film. The opening has nothing to do with the story.

The conclusion of the film is open-minded. I wanted more but it’s a better idea to leave Susan’s resolution up to interpretation. I warn you, Nocturnal Animals is not an easy watch so take caution and research its triggering content.

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About the Creator

Marielle Sabbag

Writing has been my passion since I was 11 years old. I love creating stories from fiction, poetry, fanfiction. I enjoy writing movie reviews. I would love to become a creative writing teacher and leave the world inspiring minds.

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