Guillermo Del Toro’s wheelhouse involves dealing with outsiders and magnificent creatures. Now in, his Shape Of Water follow-up, Nightmare Alley, his focus is on those considered otherworldly in our society: carnies.
Our cast of colorful characters consists of Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Mary Steenburgen, Ron Perlman, and David Strathairn.
In the remake of the 1947 Edmund Goulding flick, a charismatic but down-on-his-luck carny named Stanton Carlisle (Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (Strathairn) at a traveling carnival. He then crafts a golden ticket to success using some newly acquired knowledge perfect to grift the elite society of 1940s New York.
With the virtuous Molly (Rooney) at his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist (Blanchett). Both the original film and Del Toro’s remake are based on the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham.
The trailer boasts lightning, fire, and sex appeal, as things go topsy turvy for the seedy Stanton. Cooper as Stanton bolts down hallways smearing the walls in blood, answers questions while hooked up to a lie detector, all the while Blanchett maintains a powerful yet ominous presence throughout.
It’s not only the burning flames that build heat around Stanton, but with the police on his tail, he better think quick to get himself out of this one. It’s unusual for Del Toro to not implement supernatural elements, but he’s keeping this one focused on the “real underbelly of society.”
For the score, Del Toro recruited composer Nathan Johnson, whose most previous work is Knives Out. Once again, it appears as though Johnson was able to perfectly master grace with tension with another cutting score, previewed in the trailer.
Nightmare Alley opens exclusively in theaters on December 17.