Guillermo del Toro has established himself as one of the most exciting filmmakers in the landscape of modern cinema, known for his surreal, nightmarish fantasies like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water among others. Although he has spent most of his career dealing with new interpretations of fantasy and horror, del Toro is set to do something new with his next project.
Titled Nightmare Alley, del Toro’s latest film is a revitalisation of the film noir genre contextualised within a carnivalesque setting. It features Bradley Cooper as a mind reader who has to deal with a psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) trying to demystify his work. Many fans saw the name of the film and instantly associated it with the horror genre due to del Toro’s previous work but the director has maintained that this project is different.
“That is a distinct possibility,” del Toro told Vanity Fair. “It has happened to me in the past with Crimson Peak, where people went in expecting a horror movie. I knew it was a gothic romance but it was very difficult to put that across. But yes, this has no supernatural element. It’s based completely in a reality world. There is nothing fantastic. It’s a very different movie from my usual, but yes, the title and my name would create that [impression].”
In a recent interview with Empire, del Toro opened up about the artistic intentions of Nightmare Alley. According to the director, this new film is a deconstruction of the American Dream which focuses on the illusory nature of America’s greatest lie. It is based on the original 1946 eponymous novel by William Lindsay Gresham.
“We’re wilfully allowing that movie to exist in its own space,” the director explained. “One of the things we decided is to not watch that movie again. We both liked what existed in it, we think it has terrific things in it, but what I wanted to do was, no pun intended, closer to a nightmare. It belongs to a genre only in that it deals with the underbelly or the flip side of the American Dream, which is always a nightmare.”
Check out the trailer for Nightmare Alley below, due to premiere in the US on December 17th.