For his first movie since Best Picture-winner The Shape of Water, director Guillermo del Toro enlisted an all-star cast to visit Nightmare Alley. Based on William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name, the thriller stars Bradley Cooper as an “ambitious carny” (I’m sold already!) who “hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.” The rest of the ensemble cast includes Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, David Strathairn, and Willem Dafoe, who was born to be in a movie about carnies.
Del Toro told Vanity Fair that he was drawn to a carnival setting because “the carnival is almost like a microcosm of the world. Everybody’s there to swindle everybody. But at the same time in the carnival, the [workers] know they need each other. In the city, much less so.” He also said that he made sure to avoid “the clichés associated with the genre. I’m not going to do an artifact. I’m not going to do the Venetian blinds, and voiceover, and detectives walking with fedoras in wet streets. I wanted to do the universe of the novel, which is a little gritty, but also strangely magical. It has a very strange, mystical allure — and mythical. I was very attracted to that possibility.”
The Nightmare Alley trailer (watch above) looks pretty great, even if it won’t sell as many dildos as The Shape of Water. Nightmare Alley comes out on December 17.