Director Guillermo del Toro has taken a step back toward the real world for his latest film—but it still looks fantastic. Nightmare Alley, the director has said, has no fantastical elements. So one can only assume that Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) is just absolutely full of it as he tells his interrogators—and their lie-detecting machine—that he’s had dealings with the beyond.
But Stan’s hardly the only untrustworthy face in this carnival underworld. There’s the dangerously alluring Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), a psychiatrist with some iffy methods; the excellently named Clem Hoately (Willem DaFoe), simply sitting in the dark looking menacing; Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins) muttering about how they deal with snake charmers; and, amidst it all, Rooney Mara as a girl named Molly who looks so innocent that she must have something up her sleeve.
Interestingly, this trailer uses much of the same footage from the first teaser, but replaces that clip’s voiceover with the actual dialogue. It’s enough to make you think the film may have a lot of secrets that it doesn’t want to reveal. Nightmare Alley is based on a 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham, which was also made into a movie in 1947. To sum up the novel would venture into spoiler territory, but the movie’s summary is quite brief:
In Nightmare Alley, an ambitious carny (Bradley Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.
The outstanding cast also includes Toni Collette, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, Tim Blake Nelson, David Strathairn, Lara Jean Chorostecki, and Clifton Collins Jr. The screenplay is by del Toro and Kim Morgan, and del Toro is once again working with his Crimson Peak and The Shape of Water cinematographer, Dan Laustsen. If nothing else, this movie’s going to be delicious to look at.
Nightmare Alley goes up against Spider-Man: No Way Home when it opens in theaters on December 17th.