Nightmare Alley Review – A Few Pacing Issues But an Enjoyable Crime Noir


Nightmare Alley is not what you might expect from your typical Guillermo del Toro film.  If you told me that a Guillermo del Toro film used a carnival for a setting but didn't lean heavily into the abnormal or feature a unique creature design, I'd tell you that you were lying. I'd also question if the film was even worth watching. Nightmare Alley might not feel like the typical Guillermo del Toro film. Despite the title, this isn't a horror or paranormal film. Rather, it's a crime noir that tells the story of a con man who starts believing in his con to the point that everything starts to spiral out of control. 

While Bradley Cooper is the lead here as Stanton Carlisle, this film is all about the women. Toni Collette, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett all put major performances into this film. Blanchett in particular puts in a brilliant performance. Bradley Cooper isn't a slouch in the acting department but he gets outacted in just about every scene with Blanchett. The same can be said for his scenes with William Dafoe but that's to be expected because William Dafoe being creepy and no one out acts creepy Dafoe.

Clocking in at 2 1/2 hours, Nightmare Alley does suffer from some pacing issues. But those issues can be forgiven for the overall payoff in the story as well as the performances put in. While it's not what one might expect from Guillermo del Toro, it's a great reminder of the range he has as a director and is definitely worth checking out.

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Charles (Kriss)

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