It’s been four long years since Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro last graced us with a feature film, the ethereal and unsettling The Shape of Water. Now, he’s finally ready to deliver his genius back into the world—on December 17th, to be precise—this time with a film that takes place in a creepy carnival.
Nightmare Alley is adapted from William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name that takes a deep dive into the underbelly of the carnival world. Hollywood has already taken a stab at an adaptation of the novel, with a sleek, critically acclaimed 1947 noir directed by Edmund Goulding. And while, based on its trailer, Nightmare Alley is definitely steeped in film noir tropes, do yourself a favor and don’t expect anything like the novel or the original film. Del Toro has a habit of bringing crazy, unexpected stuff to the table…though he told Collider that the film wouldn’t have any supernatural elements. Yup, that threw us all for a loop.
The first trailer for the film starts with Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) arriving at a carnival. We then hear a voiceover from Clem Hoately (Willem Dafoe) who asks: Is he man or beast? But this beast (or man) may not even be the real threat at hand. The trailer reveals a suspicious cast of characters, not least of which is conniving psychiatrist Dr. Lillith Richter (Cate Blanchett). Also in the cast are Toni Collette, Rooney Mara, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Holt McCallany, Tim Blake Nelson, Mary Steenburgen and David Strathairn.
Click below to witness the powerhouse cast at work:
Based on this one minute and forty second teaser trailer, it looks like Nightmare Alley will have just about everything you need to get your del Toro fix on: Gothic scenery, complex fairytale-esque lore, delightfully awful villains. And, of course, there’s gonna be a big mystery to unfurl here. This trailer has only really scratched the surface.
Nightmare Alley hits theaters on December 17.