Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley ★★★

"I was born for it."

I've never been resistant to Del Toro's bleakest and happiest Toroisms, but we need to have a talk.

I grew up on Guillermo's movies and likewise his kinks; the colors, the actual *motion* and evocations of faery tales/parables/genre sermons, the fixation on humanity as an inherently selfish and belligerent body. Say what you want, but the man knows his Old Reliable and flaunts it constantly. Yet what much can you inject into veins that are already charred and evil? Noir inherently promises difficulty. Callousness, egoism, barbarics through a metropolitan lens. These same concepts earned Del Toro his Film Granddad status because he highlighted the natural ugliness in capitalistically shelled settings, setting fire to the negativity that authoritative powers want you to believe has been gauzed out. Under noir, it's a train of glory and gore, downfall and murk, but one that existed for decades before Guillermo caught the end of it. When you tone down your sense of style and canvas to "embrace" a movement that was already in your lane before you paved it, what do you even have to subvert anymore? You're simply pulling the same trick you've had since 1993 but with less flavor. The Major Arcana's Hanged Man, reversed, represents stagnancy and the refusal to sacrifice. It defines the movie as a symbol of decline. As someone who's defended the man's formula since middle school, the irony is personally hurtful. Please take risks, Grandpa G.

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