NIGHTMARE ALLEY (2021) Reviews and home release news

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Nightmare Alley, Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, will soon be streaming on HBO Max and Hulu.

Meanwhile, a special black-and-white version of the film, titled Nightmare Alley: Vision in Darkness and Light, began a limited theatrical run in the United States beginning this week.

The regular version of Nightmare Alley will be on HBO Max and Hulu from February 1st 2022.

Here’s our previous coverage of the film:


‘Man or Beast.’

Nightmare Alley is a 2021 American psychological thriller film about a young carny with a talent for manipulating people using keywords. He hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water; Crimson Peak; Pan’s Labyrinth; Cronos) from a screenplay co-written with Kim Morgan (The Forbidden Room). The movie is based on the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham which was previously adapted for the screen in 1947 as a well-regarded film noir starring Tyrone Power.

The Searchlight Pictures-Double Dare You (DDY) co-production stars Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Paul Anderson, Bradley Cooper, Mary Steenburgen, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe and Ron Perlman.



“Del Toro occasionally gets lost in giving every emotional beat room to breathe and grow, causing pacing lulls in the middle […] Those hoping for conventional, fatalistic noir will come away disappointed; this wholly bears del Toro’s imprint and penchant for stylistic flourishes, symbolism, and melancholic romance. It’s not the filmmaker’s strongest effort, yet it’s still a soaring spectacle that casts a spell.” Bloody Disgusting

“Just a few notes away from perfection with lapses in pacing in the first act, Nightmare Alley is a film that turns in on itself, twisting under its own weight to reveal one of the most satisfying endings I’ve seen. Baked in noir and dripping in the dirtiest parts of humanity, it’s a del Toro film like you haven’t seen before.” Buy Why Tho?

” …Nightmare Alley is a strikingly gorgeous, expertly-constructed work that does not go down easy, and is only recommended to those with strong constitutions. The movie’s biggest flaw is its inflated running time, mainly devoted to intricate details of the con game. It’s interesting stuff, but it’s a very long time to sit with the Stan character as our main entryway; he is thoroughly repellent from top to bottom.” Combustible Celluloid

” …yet another winner from del Toro, a director who loves the weird, the strange, the wicked, the perverse. Del Toro is perhaps a touch too romantic for this kind of pitch-black material, but it’s impossible not to get swept up in the thrills and chills of Nightmare Alley.” /Film

” …one of the first films that Guillermo del Toro has made that doesn’t include any monsters or creatures or fantasy or magic, but that doesn’t make it any less captivating. Especially because, above all, the story here means something. And it’s always so easy to watch del Toro’s films. He knows how to make every single shot look so detailed and evocative. He knows how to cast and bring some of the best performances out of his actors.” First Showing

“Cate Blanchett is outstandingly icy and just as mischievous, but this is still Bradley Cooper’s show. He has a line in this movie so hauntingly and twistedly delivered in pitch-black gallows humor context; it transcends the performance from great to extraordinary. Even with a telegraphed ending, the road Nightmare Alley takes to get there is filled with uncertainty, suspense, exhilarating violence…” Flickering Myth

” …there aren’t that many surprises to be had (even acknowledging that most audiences will be completely unfamiliar with the Tyrone-Power-headliner from the ‘40s, which itself was somewhat predictable), resulting in a comparably unsatisfying, bleak tragedy that, while effectively shedding itself of the film noir classification, isn’t a work of much potency beyond the unsettling finale.” Gone with the Twins

Overall, Nightmare Alley is a pleasant surprise. Guillermo del Toro is known for his breadth of knowledge and love for cinema. The film is evocative of film noir, yet would not easily fit into that malleable category. It is an exploration of man’s failure. The sins of humanity are laid bare before us for our examination. No one is free from sin in this film.” Nightmarish Conjurings

” …del Toro and Morgan take their time unfolding the story, particularly once the carnival has been left behind; there are times when it feels like the movie is simmering when it should be building to a boil. Yet even if one misses the midway attractions conjured up by production designer Tamara Deverell (a funhouse mixing menace with metaphor is particularly striking), the entirety of Nightmare Alley is gorgeous to look at…” Rue Morgue

” …del Toro’s remake of Nightmare Alley is less a living and breathing movie than a fossilized riff on the idea of a movie, particularly the American noir.” Slant

” …everything in Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley looks gorgeous. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot going on under the art direction […] He’s clearly an admirer of the original […] but he doesn’t seem to be rethinking or even repeating the material. The results play more like an empty impersonation…” The Wrap



Nightmare Alley is scheduled to be released by Searchlight Pictures on December 17, 2021.

Main cast and characters:

Rooney Mara … Molly
Cate Blanchett … Lilith Ritter
Paul Anderson
Bradley Cooper … Stanton ‘Stan’ Carlisle
Mary Steenburgen … Miss Harrington
Toni Collette … Zeena Krumbein
Willem Dafoe … Clem Hoately
Ron Perlman … Bruno
David Strathairn … Pete Krumbein
Holt McCallany … Anderson
Clifton Collins Jr.
Tim Blake Nelson … Carny Boss
Jim Beaver … Sheriff Jedediah Judd
Richard Jenkins … Ezra Grindle
Lara Jean Chorostecki … Louise
David Hewlett … Doctor Elrood
Dian Bachar … Fee Fee the Birdgirl
Mark Povinelli … The Major

Technical details:

2 hours 30 minutes
Audio: D-Cinema 48kHz | 5.1 Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1


Principal photography began in January 2020. In March of the same year, Searchlight Pictures halted the production of the film for health safety. Production resumed in September 2020. By November 2020, filming had already finished and reshoots occurred. Production officially wrapped on December 12, 2020.


Teaser trailer:


Critics’ consensus rating:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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