In Nightmare Alley, an ambitious carnival worker (Bradley Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.
Guillermo del Toro’s follow-up to the Oscar-winning Shape of Water is a departure for del Toro, who is known for his monster-led movies. Nightmare Alley, instead, is a psychological-modern film noir thriller. “This has no supernatural element,” del Toro told Vanity Fair. “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].”
Nightmare Alley, based on a 1946 book by William Lindsay Gresham, tells the story of a highly manipulative former carnival worker, Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), who has a knack for scamming millionaires. When Stanton gets involved with psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), however, he realizes he may have met his match.