The movie, which taps Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett for leading roles, will have “no supernatural elements,” Del Toro confirmed in a recent interview with Collider. “Just a straight, really dark story.”
He said this during a press junket for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which he co-wrote and produced for director André Øvredal. That, in a nutshell, is why his fans will find this new development interesting.
The 54-year-old continues to be a prominent voice in supernatural stories. All the films he has directed have had some sort of magical or science-fiction twist to them. After his first three films — 1993’s Cronos, 1997’s Mimic, and 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone — he gave Blade II and Hellboy to the comic book community, Pan’s Labyrinth to fantasy nuts, Pacific Rim to sci-fi chasers, and Crimson Peak to the horror aficionados.
The Shape of Water, the film that won Del Toro his first two Oscars (Best Director and Best Picture) in 2018, starred Sally Hawkins as a deaf woman working as a janitor for a secret government facility, which houses an amphibian creature she then falls in love with.
Del Toro tells Collider he received a copy of Nightmare Alley, the original book, in 1992 from friend and frequent collaborator Ron Perlman (the actor behind his Hellboy movies). The director says it’s “impossible” to tell the entire book, he alludes to “elements that are darker” for his film with co-writer Kim Morgan.
The story, which was also adapted for the screen in 1947, centers on a carnival worker who becomes a con man as a mentalist and the woman who turns the tables on him.
“In my short films, I wanted to do noir. It was horror and noir,” Del Toro said. “And now is the first chance I have to do a real underbelly of society type of movie.”
One thing’s for sure: it’ll be a “big R, double R” movie.