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Nightmare Alley - What We Know So Far

Fans may still clamor for Guillermo del Toro to one day create his Lovecraftian epic — "At the Mountains of Madness" — but for now, there's still plenty to look forward to in the iconic director's career. 

The Academy Award winner went on a bit of sabbatical shortly after "The Shape of Water" came out in 2017, but he's about to return to the big screen in a significant way. He wrote, directed, and produced a new psychological thriller that will inevitably haunt your nightmares, and it has the appropriate title of "Nightmare Alley." A remake of a 1947 film of the same name, the project began filming in January 2020 (via Collider). However, it had to suspend production later that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic (via Deadline). 

It appears as though things got back on track as the film now has an official release date. Barring any more delays, here's everything you need to know about one of the most highly anticipated films coming out in 2021. 

What's the release date for Nightmare Alley?

Searchlight Pictures has picked up several horror films to release throughout 2021, and it looks like the studio wants "Nightmare Alley" to be its big awards contender. Del Toro's next feature has landed a prime release date of December 3, 2021 (via Deadline). "The Shape of Water" also came out in December, and that movie went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, so clearly, there's an expectation "Nightmare Alley" could pick up a few trophies too. A December 3 release date should give people plenty of time to check it out before theaters start showing the likes of "West Side Story" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

It'll be a good year for del Toro's fans as his subsequent feature releases just a couple of months after "Antlers" comes out on October 29. The supernatural horror movie del Toro produced had an original release date in 2020, but the pandemic pushed it back. Hopefully, after the horrors brought about by 2020, audiences are in the mood for plenty of fictional frights later this year.

Who's in the cast for Nightmare Alley?

Guillermo del Toro is one of the most talented directors working today, so it should come as no surprise that many actors would want to work with him. For "Nightmare Alley," he's assembled a top-notch cast led by Bradley Cooper ("A Star Is Born") and Cate Blanchett ("Thor: Ragnarok") as Stan Carlisle and Dr. Lilith Ritter, respectively. 

Some of del Toro's frequent collaborators will also make an appearance in the upcoming film, most notably with Ron Perlman. The two have regularly worked together, dating back to del Toro's first feature, "Cronos," and seeing as how Perlman also has a role in "Pinocchio" (via UPI), the partnership's still going strong. Some other familiar faces who will descend into the director's dark, twisted fantasy include Richard Jenkins ("The Shape of Water") and Jim Beaver ("Crimson Peak"). The cast also includes Willem Dafoe ("The Lighthouse"), Toni Collette ("Hereditary"), Rooney Mara ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"), Tim Blake Nelson ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?"), Mary Steenburgen ("Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist").

What's the plot of Nightmare Alley?

Guillermo del Toro may be known as the king of monster movies with all sorts of macabre creations making their way into everything from "Mimic" to "Crimson Peak." However, the director confirmed he's taking a step back from creeps and ghouls for his next feature. In an interview with Collider, del Toro stated, "Now is the first chance I have to do a real underbelly of society type of movie. [There are] no supernatural elements. Just a straight, really dark story."

That dark story in question follows Stan Carlisle, a nefarious carny who has a knack for manipulating people to do whatever he wants. He only becomes more dangerous when he decides to form a partnership with psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter. While the two come from entirely different backgrounds, they make for a sinister combination together.

"Nightmare Alley" sees del Toro tackling a noir story, which is something audiences have yet to see from the filmmaker. However, don't expect him to give up everything that made his filmography iconic. Later in the Collider interview, del Toro clarified, "[Nightmare Alley will be a] big R. Double R!" It Looks like for his next project, del Toro just changed the focus to be on a different kind of monster: Man.