Academy award-winning director Guillermo del Toro is back with his next film, Nightmare Alley, and it looks like a return to his sinister film roots. Based on the 1946 novel of the same name, Nightmare Alley is a bit of a creative detour for del Toro, who explained In a new interview with Vanity Fair that the film isn't fantasy or horror. However, from the looks of the first trailer, del Toro's lush, candy-coated nightmare aesthetic is alive and well.
"Bradley Cooper stars as Stanton Carlisle, a former carnival worker who becomes a big-city star as a nightclub performer, using cold-reading tricks he picked up in the sideshow to create the impression he is a powerful mind reader," reported Vanity Fair. "Now the marks and rubes he targets are millionaires. Cate Blanchett plays Dr. Lilith Ritter, a psychiatrist who first tries to expose him as a charlatan, then becomes embroiled in his schemes." Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, Holt McCallany, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, Mary Steenburgen, and David Strathairn also star.
The Shape of Water director explained that fans of his work might be shocked about where the film goes. "That is a distinct possibility," del Toro told Vanity Fair. "It has happened to me in the past with Crimson Peak, where people went in expecting a horror movie. I knew it was a gothic romance but it was very difficult to put that across. But yes, this has no supernatural element. It's based completely in a reality world. There is nothing fantastic. It's a very different movie from my usual, but yes, the title and my name would create that [impression]."
The ongoing pandemic did make shooting tricky, as Cooper revealed earlier this year. "We shot the second half before the first half," Cooper explained at the Tribeca Film Festival. "We didn't want to do it that way. Things happened to us, with sets and other actors' availability and water, the snow and all that. I was the cause. I had moved to New York and said, 'I can't do it right now. Let me get settled.'"
"It was a blessing," del Toro added at the time. "I believe wholeheartedly life gives you what you need, not what you want. You have a window to look at everything. It was incredible. We got to see these characters, when [Cooper's Stanton Carlisle] was full of himself and arrogant and certain and seeking. We were able to go back six months in between all this and were able to analyze and see not only that character but what we needed to rewrite to be able to go back to a set. If your pores are open, the movie finds you. Each movie tells you what it needs." Nightmare Alley hits theaters on Dec. 17.