Movie Review: Nightmare Alley (2021)

Stan (Bradley Cooper) is a drifter with his own share of secrets when he hooks up with a Depression-era carnival. But he quickly learns the tricks of the cold reading trade and becomes the barker to the show’s “clairvoyant” act. Despite being warned about how dangerous it is to toy with people in this way, Stan has much grander ambitions for his talents. That is, until he finds himself in over his head. . . .

Kelli recommended this noir horror movie to me (an adaptation of a 1940s noir classic), and I’m glad she did–I really enjoyed it!

It’s like The Mentalist meets Freaks meets James M. Cain, which is a combination that really works for me.

The movie really benefits from the combination of a director known for his visual flair (Guillermo del Toro) with a talented cast of actors (including Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, and more).

It’s a gorgeous movie that vividly evokes the setting and the cast seems to be having a lot of fun with their ominous, shifty characters. I really like noir but must confess that I am not familiar with the original movie or book this is based on. So, I ended up being quite startled by some of the twists and turns this movie took, especially in its last twenty minutes. Before then, the movie’s pace is quite deliberate, which made its final roller-coaster ride even more shocking.

Just fair warning, this is a deeply weird and at times disturbing movie. It didn’t bother me, but I know some people who bailed pretty early on it. If you don’t enjoy deeply weird, somewhat disturbing movies, you’re probably not going to like this one. But if that description doesn’t put you off, it’s a very well-made, interesting movie that’s certainly worth watching, especially for horror, thriller, and noir fans.

Are you a Nightmare Alley fan? Have you watched this movie? What else are you watching? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on this movie or to place it on hold.

Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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