Nightmare Alley: Latest Trailer Breakdown and What to expect!

‘Nightmare Alley’; Guillermo del Toro’s new movie is all set to release on December 17, 2021. ‘Nightmare Alley’ 2021 is the remake of the movie released in 1947. The original movie star Tyrone Power marks it as one of his finest performances. ‘Nightmare Alley’ is the gem of genre noir. Now, Guillermo has taken the challenge to re-polish this gem.

Carnival of Nightmare- early arrival

‘Nightmare Alley’ tells a story of a con-man who works in a carnival and moves to big cities to con rich people. His actions make him fall from grace leading him to become the worst nightmare of his life. The lead Stanton Carlisle in short ‘Stan‘ is played by Bradley Cooper. In the trailer, Stan appears to come out from a bus to reach the famous carnival. He has tricks of his own and wants to become a part of the carnival.

Stan arriving in the carnival, Nightmare Alley
Stan’s arrival

In the original movie, Stan was already an employee of the carnival. He worked as the assistant to the queen of the carnival. So, del Toro wants to tell the story of Stan from a point prior to his engagement with the carnival. Stan’s past life may be revealed in this new Nightmare Alley. This new version charts Stan’s progress in work at the carnival to set the stage in big cities earning him the name The Great Stanton.

The geeky show in Nightmare Alley

In the original as well as the new version geek shows are important in the set of the carnival. They are the main attraction of the carnival. A man who is an alcoholic or drug addict is tricked to become a geek who bites of the necks of animals and drinks their blood in exchange for drugs or alcohol. The odds are always the favorite of crowds.

the stage for geek show
The geek show

Stan is weirdly attracted to the geeks while thinking-“how can someone be so low”.Little does Stan know, his future is also to become one of them. William Dafoe plays the owner of the carnival who loves events like the geek shows. In the trailer, Dafoe attracts a crowd by introducing a one-eyed scientific marvel. His introduction to cyclops as a man or beast is a question addressed to Stan.

poster in previous movie nightmare alley
Scene from the older movie

Love Story in the Nightmare Alley

Molly Cahill, the love of Stan is played by Rooney Mara. In the original movie, Molly is in love with Stan and also accompanies him to the city to play in his game. Later, she realizes that she can no longer take part in the con-game along with Stan. She knows that this will be the downfall of The Great Stanton.


In del Toro’s movie too, Molly is the center of morality. She is a character to balance the actions of Stan. Hence, we can expect some objection from the love of Stan in this movie too. In the story, Molly is also the romantic interest of the strongman of the carnival, Bruno. She rejects him and is completely smitten by Stan. Although Bruno, loves and cares for her, he becomes the priest for the shot-gun marriage of this pair.

The Queen Zeena

Mademoiselle Zeena is the mentalist of the carnival. Toni Collette plays this character. She and her husband work together to make Zeena a ‘true’ mind reader. In the original, Zeena is forced to make Stan her assistant, when her beloved dies due to alcoholism. Although, Stan is the reason behind the death of her husband. Stan learns the secret code of mind play and takes off to Chicago to play with rich people.

Zeena , nightmare alley
Zeena in the carnival

In the latest version, we don’t yet know how will it turn out? del Toro sets Clifton Collins Jr. as the assistant of Zeena in his movie. So, how will Stan learn the secret code when he will no longer be the assistant? There may be some other way to make Stan learn in Toro’s movie.

Doctor Nightmare

The famous doctor companion of Stan, Lilith Ritter plays by Cate Blanchett. A prominent psychologist who is more dangerous than Stan. She is more dangerous than the scammer Stan himself. Stan meets her for counseling sessions. But there, he earns a jackpot. He somehow learns that Dr. Ritter has confidential information of many big-shots from her counseling. Stan is seduced and they both set to scam the Richie-riches. However, one of their plans fails and Stan becomes the target of one of his victims.

dr ritter in her counseling session with stan, nightmare alley
Dr. Rittler and Stan

To get away from the city, he looks for the scammed money, but the truth hits him hard. Dr. Ritter scams him giving him some dollar bills and threatening him to give false testimony against him. She is surely a dangerous character and in the hands of del Toro, she will become vicious.

Erasing the trail

In the trailer, Stan and Molly hit a man with a car. The final scene of the trailer, reveals the character is played by actor Holt McCallany. In the original, Holt’s character is a man who finds the facade of Stan and reveals his fake actions. However, in del Toro’s, Stan tries to silence this threat early, thus blocking the news from spreading. Here, he tries to erase the evidence of his false game.

erasing the evidence
The Protagonists hit a man with their car

What’s New in Nightmare Alley?

Differing from the original Nightmare Alley, del Toro has added some new scenes. In the trailer, a burning house and a walking Stan are seen. This was not there in the original film. Also, there is a scene where Stan is chilling amidst the burning fire. This may hint at Stan’s previous life before coming to the carnival. It may be safe to assume that to cover his whereabouts Stan deliberately covers himself in the shades of the carnival.

Stan in the burning room
Stan sitting in a burning room

In another scene, we see Stan is escaping through a lit corridor leaving behind blood marks. Guillermo del Toro set his new movie on the basis of the novel with the same title. So some parts are from the novel itself, as this scene. In the novel, Stan becomes the prey of his victims. This scene may show Stan eloping from his attackers. The original movie doesn’t have something like this.

Thus, in Toro’s movie, Stan’s character is more layered. His actions might become truly his nightmare.

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