Nightcrawlers - Recap

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Trooper Dennis Wells drives through the storm and pulls over at a diner for a break. The waitress notices that something is wrong with him and Dennis mentions there was a massacre at a motel in a neighboring county. The police don’t know if it was a gang crazed on drugs or someone else. Outside, a family from Denver pulls up in their station wagon. They come in for something to eat and Dennis knows that it’s no night for driving and offers to drive them back to their hotel.

Suddenly a car speeds into the parking lot and pulls up outside, brakes shrieking. A single man gets out: Price, a Vietnam vet. He limps in and orders a cup of coffee as Dennis watches him suspiciously. Finally the trooper notes he was driving fast and Price apologizes. He asks for another cup of coffee, but then looks down at his hand where he’s suddenly holding a beer. The cook, Bobby, sees it but when he glances back down, the beer has disappeared and the cup of coffee is there.

Price takes some pills and Dennis asks if he has a prescription. The veteran says he does and that he needs to get back on the road. Dennis says that he’s too dangerous a driver and offers to escort him to the motel as well. He says he wants to keep moving.

Price fiddles with his lighter and the waitress notices it says “Nightcrawlers” on it. He explains that everyone in his unit got one but doesn’t want to talk about it. Dennis pushes it, asking about the war. Price admits he was in an early unit and spent a lot of time crawling through the jungles. Dennis talks about how he wanted to go but had a high draft number. Price admits he should still be there with the other eight men in his patrol who died there. He prepares to leave but Dennis insists he go to the motel. Price snaps at him, saying he has no idea what he went through in Vietnam. Price describes how his unit marched into Hell and what happened to them. Dennis tries to talk him out of it but Price says he wants to go through it again. He tells them that he ran to save his own life, driving the bodies of his friends down into the mud. Finally Price tells Dennis that he’ll never understand, and that only someone who was there could understand.

Price pays for his coffee and leaves, but Dennis stops him, figuring that he’s high on pills. Price says that Dennis doesn’t want him at a hotel unless he wants innocent people killed. The veteran says that the last time he stopped at a motel, he fell asleep and something happened. Price has met four other vets who can do the same thing. When Bobby asks what, Price concentrates and causes a t-bone steak to appear on the grill and then disappear. He warns that they don’t last long unless he’s asleep, and then they last longer. Price figures that they got sprayed with something created by the Russians, something too dangerous to keep using. He tells Dennis that he went to asleep at the motel and couldn’t wake himself up, and Cong soldiers smashed into his room and shot at him.

Dennis tries to arrest him but Price makes his gun heat up, forcing him to drop it as it melts. Price thanks the waitress, who tells him to take care of himself. Dennis grabs a ketchup bottle and knocks Price out as he walks out. The family runs outside but is caught in helicopter spotlights. Flares start shooting into the ground and Vietcong soldiers advance on the diner. Dennis and Bob try to wake up Price without success. The soldiers open fire, bowing up the cars and then the gas tanks. They start to fire into the diner and everyone takes cover. Dennis tries to get out the back but is gunned down.

The soldiers break into the diner and prepare to shoot Bob. The waitress knocks one of them down with a skillet and Bob grabs the skillet and prepares to smash in Price’s head but he hesitates and one of the soldiers shoots, injuring him. Finally they surround Price as he wakes up. They kill him and then fade away.

In the aftermath, the family’s boy picks up Price’s cigarette lighter. As the EMTs take Bob away, he remembers that Price said there were other soldiers with the same power.