The thing I love most about Guillermo Del Toro is how he can create worlds, and make it so you are actually experience what’s in that world. Even if it’s as simple as a traveling carnival. He is famous for showing fantastical monsters that defy the imagination, but is just as talented in displaying the human monster. Nightmare Alley is the latest release from Del Toro that shows us that humans can be very terrible people indeed, especially in this tale.
The movie is a neo-noir that takes place in 1940s about a man who joins a traveling carnival, and learns the craft of mentalism. He becomes successful at it, so he runs off to take his show on the road, but danger awaits. He must try to stay one step ahead or risk losing everything.
The man, played by Bradley Cooper, is the worst sort. We get clues of his troubled past, though that does not excuse his actions. This is someone who thinks he is clever and can fool anyone, though most people already sense his bad intentions. He is so good at conning people that he even cons himself and those closest to him that he can get away with anything. Even if it hurts those who love him. You definitely pity those who fall into his trap.
The carnival scenes were just fantastic as you got a behind the scenes look at what it was about back in those days. William Dafoe stars as the barker, and manager of the carnival, and he is great in the role. This movie certainly has a heck of the cast, including Ron Perlman as the strong man Bruno, and Cate Blanchett as the mysterious female fatale named Lilith. Let’s just say her name is very fitting.
Most of the movie is building up suspense. You are waiting eventually for the other shoe to drop, which it does in a big way. The finale showed just how far the man is willing to go to keep up his act. And even though he doesn’t get the punishment he justly deserves, karma repays him another way. The film is not as fantastical or scary as you would expect, but I think the fear factor mostly comes from the psychological side. Just seeing how twisted and deranged someone could be. In all, no pun intended, I found the movie to be an enjoyable ride. It is currently streaming on Hulu and HBOMAX if you want to see it for yourself.
If you already seen Nightmare Alley, feel free to leave your thoughts below!
Till next time, stay scared!!
-Tha Thrilla –