Guillermo Del Toro’s next film Alley of nightmares is a bit of a departure for the director. The new trailer released by Searchlight Pictures on Thursday sees the Oscar-winning filmmaker trading his fascination with the supernatural for an R-rated black set in and around a carnival.

Alley of nightmares stars Bradley Cooper as Stanton Carlisle, a nightclub mind reader who finds himself entangled with Cate Blanchett as Dr. Lilith Ritter, a psychiatrist who seeks to debunk him as a fraudster. The trailer itself manages to be quite tense without the usual Del Toro monsters, with carnival performances, Willem Dafoe as a sort of ringleader, Blanchett as an obvious femme fatale, and what feels like a live electrocution. You can see it for yourself in the teaser above.

Del Toro deliberately avoids many tropes of black cinema with Alley of Nightmares, oneaccording to an interview with Vanity Show. “I’m not going to do venetian blinds, voice overs and sleuths walking in fedoras on wet streets,” Del Toro told the magazine. This also extends to the deliberate choice of the director. do not include supernatural elements in its R-rated black. The original 1946 novel by Alley of nightmares by William Lindsay Gresham is steeped in horrible things people do – Cooper’s character is ultimately a fraud. Based on the trailer, the film appears to be a natural evolution for the monster metaphors that Del Toro has worked with since the start of his career, but this time around fully integrated into the equally terrifying real world.

Alley of nightmares will be released on December 17th.

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