It was when I went to see Spider-Man: No Way Home that I saw the trailer for Nightmare Alley. I thought the dark, moody, and film noir kind of vibe trailer had looked interesting and when Guillermo del Toro’s name popped up on the screen, I knew this was a movie for me. I was very excited to check this out as it also featured a stacked cast with Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Ron Pearlman, and many more.
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The Movie Review
The movie is about a man called, Stan Carlisle, played by Bradley Cooper (check him out also in A Star is Born or Avengers: Infinity War). It starts in 1939 when we see Stan putting a dead body in the floorboards and burning the house! Stan eventually ends up at a carnival where he takes a job doing random odd jobs, setting things up, and taking them down.
He soon falls in with the talented Madame Zeena and her husband, Pete. They are a “clairvoyant” kind of act, but Pete is actually a very talented “mentalist” and Stan becomes enamored with his techniques and Pete teaches him his ways. The man who runs the carnival, Clem is a very interesting kind of character, but to be honest with you, this whole place is full of weird and interesting people
Stan has a thing for one of the other carnival performers, Molly and he wants to take her away and have a better and more affluent life for her and him. Thanks to the skills he has learned from Pete and Zeena, Stan feels that he and Molly can strike it rich with their own mentalism act.
Stan and Molly wow the masses with their mentalist act and live a very good life away from the carnival. Things are going great until one night at one of their shows a psychiatrist called, Lilith (Cate Blanchet) calls into question if what he is doing is real! This throws Stan and Molly’s world into a freefall that the rest of the movie now focuses on.
Lilith brings to the attention of Stan a very wealthy man who lost his son and Stan agrees to help him communicate with him. Molly is disgusted by this as she feels it is going too far, well things go even further as this man is friends with a guy called, Grindle. Grindle is basically a gangster who wants to communicate with his one lost love.
This guy is clearly unhinged, but Stan decides to put together this very elaborate act where Grindle can communicate with his deceased lover. He pulls Molly into play the dead woman and things quickly go off the rails. All the while Stan is trying to fleece these rich and powerful men, he is messing around with Lilith. It is Lilith that is giving him the intel he needs to make his act seem convincing to Grindle.
I have to say that Nightmare Alley was a very interesting movie, but it was not the movie I thought I was going to be watching. From the trailer, I thought it was going to be a gothic horror movie, but that was not the case at all. It was more of a mystery, film noir type deal. It was a good watch, with some great twists and some truly excellent performances, but I do not think it is the kind of movie I would watch again.