Nightmare Alley

2021, Drama/Crime, 2h 30m

339 Reviews 1,000+ Verified Ratings

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critics consensus

While it may not hit quite as hard as the original, Guillermo del Toro's Nightmare Alley is a modern noir thriller with a pleasantly pulpy spin. Read critic reviews

audience says

Stylish but slow, Nightmare Alley pays off with a powerful ending -- if you can hang in long enough to make it, that is. Read audience reviews

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Movie Info

When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society. With the virtuous Molly (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who might be his most formidable opponent yet.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Nightmare Alley

Audience Reviews for Nightmare Alley

  • Feb 06, 2022
    've now watched both versions of Nightmare Alley, the 1947 movie and the 2021 Guillermo del Toro remake, and I guess I just shrug at both. Based upon the 1946 novel by Lindsay Gresham, we follow an ambitious yet troubled man, Stanton (Bradley Cooper), who finds refuge in a traveling carnival, mentors as a phony mentalist, and then uses his skills of manipulation to fleece the rich and privileged while possibly losing his own soul in the process. I kept watching this 150-minute movie and waiting for it to get better, to hit another level, and I had to keep asking, "Why isn't this playing better for me?" It's del Toro, an early twentieth-century freak show, a dashing of film noir, and a star-studded cast (Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, David Strathairn), and all those enticing elements should coalesce into something special and dark and adult and transporting, like del Toro's 2017 Best Picture-winning Shape of Water. However, for me it just feels so turgid and overly melodramatic. I wish the movie had stayed with the traveling carnival and the colorful weirdos that it ditches halfway through. I think it's because the movie plays to your exact expectations. You expect it to be beautifully composed, and it is, with a flair for the grotesque, a del Toro specialty, and the beats of its film noir-heavy story with femme fatale and double crosses comes across so predictably but minus substantial depth to compensate. I kept waiting for the themes to deepen, to be a better reflection of ourselves, but it's one man's circular downfall that doesn't play too tragic because he's already an unrepentant scoundrel. Cooper also just seems too old for the part, especially when everyone refers to him as a "young chap." You might not see a better looking movie from 2021. The cinematography, production design, costumes, and stylish panache that del Toro trades in are all present and glorious to behold. I just wish I could get more from Nightmare Alley besides an admiration for its framing and less about what is happening to the characters within such doting artistry. Nate's Grade: B-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Jan 08, 2022
    I recently saw other top-of-the-line films with a good deal of this cast in other roles wherein they all delivered top-notch and quality performances. But del Toro has something here, something alive, that allows those same actors FIRE. It's a creation so beautiful it's breathtaking. The cinematography is lush. The story, the rise and fall of just one of the mob, one of the guys, a normal joe, "you know that guy", connects for just those reasons because we know somebody like this character, and all the characters. It's why the story works. Del Toro has a classic made. See it for yourself.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 16, 2021
    The kind of bleak, total bummer we need every now and then even though it is likely to be rejected by the mainstream public. Cooper is at his best here and the rest of the cast all get at least one great moment. Like "Crimson Peak" Guillermo del Toro proves yet again how great he is at these old fashioned narratives remixed with his unique style.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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