Saturday, March 19, 2022

4K Digital Review: Nightmare Alley


Nightmare Alley is adapted from the novel of the same name by Lindsay Gresham and the basis for the 1947 movie starring Tyrone Power. The 1947 movie is considered to be one of the greatest in film noir. This time is it director Guillermo del Toro's take and it is easily his most beautiful film yet to date.  

The film opens with a mysterious scene and Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) is on the run. He ends up at a traveling carnival, where the carnival's barker (Willem Dafoe) finds him a job. Soon he becomes friends with Zeena "The Seer" (Toni Collette) and her husband Pete (David Strathairn) and becomes part of their act. Stanton learns their secrets and leaves with Molly (Rooney Mara), an innocent young women who also has an act at the carnival. 

Less than a decade later, Stanton and Molly have a mentalist act that lures in the socially elite. At one of the shows, they meet Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) who is out to disprove his abilities. Will this be the end of the scam or just the start? This is now a battle to the finish. 


The Dolby Atmos track is perfect considering the film's genre of film noir.  So don't expect a lot of attention-grabbing sounds but the use of creating depth using the score as well as atmosphere and other sound effects draw you further into the movie without causing any distractions. 


The streaming 4K video is fantastic with incredible detail and visual depth. With the use of many sequences of the film using close-ups the richness of the details shine. The skintones, costumes and sets are superbly rendered. The use of shadows and lighting look very natural. 

Bonus Features

  • Del Toro’s Neo Noir – Writer-director Guillermo del Toro and his standout cast decipher the dark, complicated world of Nightmare Alley. The filmmaker reveals how his take on noir is rooted in classic cinema but offers an accessible, modern narrative.
  • Beneath the Tarp – Production designer Tamara Deverell and her talented team skillfully delivered both a decaying traveling carnival world and a gilded Art Deco high society with striking visuals. We explore how this design supported del Toro’s genre-bending filmmaking.
  • What Exists in the Fringe – Costume designer Luis Sequeira unravels his collaboration with Guillermo del Toro and reveals the symbolism that’s constantly at play in the film’s carefully crafted wardrobe’s design.


Nightmare Alley is a beautiful journey into film noir. The video quality is wonderful and the audio mix draws you further into the film. There is a fair offering of bonus features. You owe it to yourself to add this to your collection.

Nightmare Alley is now available on Digital and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on March 22. 

*disclaimer: the digital copy was provided to me by Walt Disney Home Entertainment for the purpose of review but the opinions are strictly mine alone*


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