‘Nightmare Alley’ (2021) | Movie Review

Directed By:

Guillermo del Toro

Written By:

Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan, William Lindsay Gresham


Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett


Action, Crime, Drama

Rated: R for strong/bloody violence, some sexual content, nudity and language

Guillermo del Toros new film stars Bradley Cooper as Stanton Carlisle who arrives at a traveling circus getting work as a handyman. He eventually works his way up to assisting the clairvoyant couple Zeena (Toni Collette) and Pete (David Strathairn) with their predictions and shows. After learning everything he can, he takes his new found knowledge to try and make a better life for himself and his Carnival other Molly (Rooney Mara) but will his newfound abilities come undone when other suspect something sinister?

This psychological thriller brings the design and beautiful production design of ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Pans Labyrinth’ but with eery and powerful performances by Cooper, as well as Cate Blanchett as someone in competition with Stanton and onto his possible con. Honestly all of the performances in ‘Nightmare Alley’ are great.

It’s tone feels like a noir thriller but still Del Toro brings is masterful craftsmanship and attention to detail in everything. The lighting is absolutely beautiful and you’ll be lost in the film’s cinematography. Where I feel the film loses some momentum is when Stanton leaves the circus. The movie tends to lose its pacing and spends too much time on points that we could understand without being explained.

I’ve also not seen the original, but I sense that there was more gruesome moments in the previous film that in this film. Might have done with more of that type of horror. The psychological exploration into the characters is where the true horror lies, so look for the characters to feel most invested rather than scary moments.

Overall, ‘Nightmare Alley’ is a good thriller but not necessarily a good horror thriller. While all of the performances are great it feels watered down from the original, missing an element that makes the meal feel full. Still, I recommend checking it out!

Rating: 5 out of 10.
Patrick Beatty
Patrick Beatty

Patrick Beatty is a film critic and creator of PatrickBeattyReviews.com and the Gaggle of Geeks Podcast network. Watch him Friday’s on ABC4 Good Things Utah talk about movies and follow all his work in the link below.

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