Watch the First Trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro’s films are always worth watching: the acclaimed director is renowned for his intricate and beautiful worlds, and while he’s probably best known for his genre stories like Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Shape of Water, his next film looks as though it’s going to take place in a slightly more realistic world.

That doesn’t mean that the world through his eyes is any less beautiful. Fox Searchlight has just released a first teaser for del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, and it looks like it’ll be a tense, creepy ride.

The film is an adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 noir novel Nightmare Alley, which was first adapted as a film back in 1947. The book explores the underworld of traveling carnivals, and follows an ambitious, manipulative carny named Stanton Carlisle (played by Bradley Cooper) and his relationship with a psychiatrist named Lilith Ritter (played by Cate Blanchett), who has some secrets and motivations of her own.

The trailer opens by asking a central question “Is he man or beast?” and it looks like that will be a bit of a theme for the film as Carlisle begins to con his way out of the theatrical world and the various people that he comes across. As spotted by io9, del Toro told Vanity Fair that this is a bit of a departure from his usual repertoire, in that “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 film also has a stacked cast: Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, and David Strathairn. The film’s due out in theaters on December 17th.

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