Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal

They only come out at night.

Dirtbags, lowlifes, predators — they’re just some of the dangerous beasts that “Nocturnal Animals” focuses on.

But there are other things that live in the dark, too: self-doubt, nagging regret, the sense that somehow, somewhere, things went wrong.

And those can be even scarier monsters.

“Nocturnal Animals” is directed by the fashion designer Tom Ford and it looks beautiful in a way that glossy ads are. Jake Gyllenhaal is hunky (and, as usual, briefly shirtless). Amy Adams is as pretty and perfect as a doll.

She’s just as cold, though. And so is the film.

Because this is a movie about all the ways we hurt each other. And although sometimes it’s through vicious violence, sometimes it’s in subtler, nastier, icier ways.

And now Edward has a novel coming out, which he wants Susan to read. It’s a gruesome thriller about a too-nice guy who gets caught up in a carjacking, and sees his wife and child brutally abducted.

But why, after almost 20 years, did Edward send Susan this book? And why is it really dedicated to her?

Those are Susan’s first questions and they’ll be answered, eventually — although not in the way she wants.

But first we have to make our way through three interwoven stories — flashbacks of Susan and Edward’s life together, snapshots of Susan’s life now as she’s reading, and Edward’s book, acted out as a sort of movie-inside-the-movie, with rangy Michael Shannon as a Texas lawman.

It sounds a little too clever, but it’s not. It’s just clever enough.

Partly because, simply, Edward’s novel is good — an abduction/revenge story that has the gruesome, rural-horror feel of a ’70s exploitation flick. But also because Gyllenhaal plays not only Edward, but the hero in his own novel. And it forces us to think about the reasons he has for telling this story now. What’s it really about?

What does it mean to Susan — sitting there reading it, alone in her Los Angeles mansion, surrounded by everything except people?

With its wild swings between grimy crime and upscale angst, “Nocturnal Animals” can sound like an artsy experiment. (It certainly starts off like that, with a credits sequence full of old, fat naked cheerleaders — something even David Lynch would shrink from).

And, there’s something decidedly misogynistic in its story. It’s not just the criminals in Edward’s story who hate women; Edward’s carrying around a lot of anger, too, a grudge he’s been nursing like a 12-year-old scotch. And the movie takes his side.

But ultimately “Nocturnal Animals” is about more than that. It’s about how we hurt each other. It’s about how we fail each other. And it’s about how we think about all of it, over and over, late in the dark of the night.