Nightmare Alley Clips: Just See This Movie As Soon As Possible, All Right?

It doesn't take a mentalist to know that something's rotten in Denmark when theaters start canceling screenings of Guillermo del Toro's new film on opening weekend to make room for more showings of the latest Marvel movie. That's what happened this last weekend with del Toro's "Nightmare Alley," which didn't stand a chance against "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

Speaking as someone who appreciates both Spidey and del Toro's own auteurist superhero films, it was more than a little disheartening to hear that "Nightmare Alley" had bombed at the box office, perhaps in part because certain multiplexes bailed on it early in favor of the record-breaking blockbuster that has now ostensibly "saved" movie theaters — or at least Marvel's mighty monopoly on them. What makes it even more perplexing is that the Searchlight Pictures, the distributor of "Nightmare Alley," is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, meaning Disney set its own prestige pic up for failure against a tentpole it co-financed with Sony.

If you need some incentive to check out "Nightmare Alley" (over and above our glowing review of it), Searchlight has released two new clips from the film, which might help get you in the dark neo-noir mood. The first clip features Bradley Cooper, Toni Colette, and David Strathairn sitting around doing cold readings.

Cold reading is a technique that carnies and other clairvoyants can use to pick up on signals and make guesses about people that give them the illusion of ESP (extrasensory perception). In "Nightmare Alley," Cooper's character, Stan Carlisle, learns this technique from Pete (Strathairn) and his wife, Zeena (Colette).

Nightmare Alley Clip - You Know They're No Good

By the time we get to the second clip, it appears Stan is now a full-on mentalist and con artist who uses cold reading to dupe unsuspecting marks. He brags about fooling one such mark to the alluring Dr. Lilith Ritter, played by Cate Blanchett; and while it's not featured in this clip, I have it on good authority that Stan is going by the stage name of "The Great Stanton" (I may or may not be joking).

Who would win in a magic-off: Cooper's Great Stanton, or Hugh Jackman's Great Danton from "The Prestige?" While you ponder that question, allow me to convene a TED Talk in which I implore you to see "Nightmare Alley," if for no other reason than because I can't. It's not out where I live yet. It's times like this when I'm forced to sit on the sidelines and live vicariously through people on U.S. soil.

Are we just waiting for "Nightmare Alley" to hit home media? Or does the average American moviegoer simply not care about auteurs like del Toro or faces like the ones in the star-studded cast of "Nightmare Alley" anymore? All I know is, in light of the runaway success of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," it feels like the blame-it-on-Covid excuse no longer holds as much water as it did with Ridley Scott's "The Last Duel."

In addition to Cooper, Blanchett, Collette, and Strathairn, "Nightmare Alley" stars Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, and Mary Steenburgen. The movie is in theaters now.