Nightmare Alley Trailer: Guillermo Del Toro Brings A New Nightmare

There's a neo-noir brewing from Guillermo del Toro — do I have your attention? The final trailer for del Toro's upcoming remake of "Nightmare Alley" has now been released, and there's a lot to unpack before the mystery even hits theatres.

The trailer opens with Stan Carslile, played by Bradley Cooper, sitting for a lie detector test with some hard-boiled law enforcement lugs. During the interrogation — which is where the flashback footage begins and more characters get introduced — Stan claims he is a "true medium." We also see him begin an entanglement with a femme fatale psychiatrist, played by the striking and always impressive Cate Blanchett. 

Though things appear to be really high octane and even glamorous in the glitzy carnival noir world del Toro creates, things seemingly take a turn when we see a shot of Stan running down a hallway and leaving a handprint of blood on the wall. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what sends Cooper's character on a downward spiral to hell, but it could have something to do with what Blanchett's character says at the end of the trailer: "If you displease the right people, the world closes in on you very, very fast."

Here's the official synopsis for "Nightmare Alley," which is based on the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham:

When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society. With the virtuous Molly (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist who might be his most formidable opponent yet.

Nightmare Alley Trailer

It's nice to see "Nightmare Alley" finally getting its time in the spotlight. The project has been highly anticipated, but it has also seen its fair share of production hiccups. The film was constantly being rewritten while shooting, which was done out of order. Then, production incurred a six-month delay due to pandemic shutdowns.

"We shot the second half before the first half. We didn't want to do it that way," Cooper explained at the Tribeca Film Festival in June. "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.'"

However, del Toro noted that "it was a blessing" to have so many roadblocks: 

"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."

The noir adaptation is del Toro's follow-up to his 2017 Oscar-winning drama "The Shape of Water," which grossed nearly $200 million worldwide. He received his first Academy Awards — Best Picture and Best Director — for the project, which starred Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones.

"Nightmare Alley" is set to arrive in theaters on December 17, 2021 — just in time for a Noir Christmas, should you like one.