An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.


Nightmare Alley.

Nightmare Alley | December 17, 2021 (United States) Summary:
Countries: United States, Mexico, CanadaLanguages: English, French

‘SPOILER ALERT’

The film opens with Stan, dragging a body into the floorboards of his home and then dropping a match to set the entire place on fire

 

He then takes a bus until it drops him off at a carnival

 

He watches as the troupe leader Clem Hoatley presents a geek to the audience

 

The man is advertised as is it a man or a beast before an amused crowd, Clem drops a live chicken down as the Geek comes out and bites the head of the chicken to the horror and amusement of the crowd

 

Stan is spotted by other carnies strongest man Bruno

 

and the world’s smallest man Major Mosquito, who thinks he is up to no good but Stan ends up getting a job as a carny working with them

 

After proving himself to be useful, Clem allows Stan to join them as they make their move to another carnival

 

On their next job, Stan starts to grow close to one of the carnies Molly Cahill  whose act is to allow electrical charges to run through her body

 

At one point, Geek flees from his cage, and Stan and Clem have to look for him

 

The Geek hits Stan over the head with a rock  and tries to escape, but Clem stops him and he retaliates by throwing him down and hitting him over the head but Clem stops him from killing the man

 

Stan stays with fellow carny Zeena whose act is being a clairvoyant to the patrons, along with her husband Pete

 

later, He helps them with their act, which sees Zeena pretending to be a medium between herself and the customers

 

Pete misses a cue because he is drunk so Zeena has to improvise, but she gets the audience to cheer for her

 

Meanwhile, Stan tries to come up with a gimmick for Molly where she is strapped to an electric chair and would allow him to join her act

 

Bruno knows that, and warns Stan not to hurt her since he promised her father that he would look after her and he threatens Stan with violence if he does anything to her

 

Stan spends time with Clem, who shows him the stash of liquor that he has, but warns him against taking the wood alcohol which is poisonous

 

After taking the Geek to get medical attention, Clem tells Stan about how a man becomes a Geek, after being broken and left with nothing to his name

 

He also shows Stan a collection of oddities he possesses such as a fetus with a third eye that killed its mother in childbirth

 

Stan learns some tricks from Zeena and Pete, after Pete demonstrates his techniques on Stan, by mentioning him wanting the love of his father

 

Although Pete says this is just a run-of-the-mill trick it does hit Stan, since he did have a tumultuous relationship with his father

 

Zeena and Pete warn Stan against putting on a spook show involving trying to channel the dead in their acts

 

Stan brings Pete some liquor per his requests

 

While Pete appears passed out Stan attempts to swipe his little black book of tricks, but Pete catches him

 

In the morning, Bruno and Major go to Zeena and tell her something happened to Pete

 

Everybody runs to the middle of the field finds Pete dead having been poisoned although it’s not clear if Stan gave him the wood alcohol on purpose or by mistake and Zeena wails over his body

 

while Stan tosses the chicken corpses into a hole in the ground, he saw four cop cars, coming up the South

 

he hurries to Clem to tell him that

 

Clem drags the Geek out of his cage and hides him while Stan covers the Geek banner with a fake one

 

The officer says that he got a complaint that there is an illegal performance

 

emphasizing cruelty to both animal and man

 

The cops didn’t find anything and they leave the Carnival and later they celebrate with Stan for saving the carnival from stopping

 

Stan then grows closer to Molly, and he eventually convinces her to leave the carnival behind and run away with him

 

Bruno catches them and he starts punching Stan, but Molly holds him off says she loves him and has agreed to go with him

 

On their last day, Stan says his farewell to Zeena

 

He offers her Pete’s book but she declines to take it

 

Two years later, Stan and Molly have put on an act in New York with him as The Great Stanton

 

He wears a blindfold and guesses what Molly is holding based on certain signals

 

During one show, they are approached by psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter

 

She opts to do the act with Stan herself asking him to guess what is in her clutch

 

Stan correctly guesses, that she is holding a pistol in there and The crowd applauds

 

Afterward, Stan speaks to Judge Charles Kimball, who employed Lilith to see if Stan was the real deal and Stan claims to be channeling Kimball’s deceased son Julian

 

He offers to pay Stan handsomely for a private reading, which Molly says they don’t do, but Stan cannot turn down the opportunity

 

He goes to Kimball’s house to meet with him and his wife

 

learns that Julian died in No Man’s Land and claims to feel his presence, which is enough to convince them of Stan’s abilities

 

Stan later meets with Lilith in her office

 

She knows he is a con man, but she is intrigued by his methods and plans to help him exploit New York’s elite since she has several sessions with them recorded

 

She also begins sessions with Stan, learning of his guilt in Pete’s death since he implicitly viewed him as something of a surrogate father figure

 

It is also shown that Stan was with his father in his final moments, as he made his father freeze to death and later dumped his body in the house before setting it on fire

 

Molly calls Bruno, and he arrives to visit her with Major and Zeena

 

Stan talks with Zeena, who also advises him against doing the spook show

 

Per Lilith’s suggestions, Stan meets with Kimball and is introduced to Ezra Grindle a wealthy man who wants to speak to his late wife Dory, who died after suffering a miscarriage

 

Stan meets Grindle and his loyal assistant named Anderson and he is hooked up to a lie detector

 

When asked about being a medium, Stan is almost exposed as a liar, until he manages to make claims related to Dory, which convinces Grindle that he is who he says he is

 

Stan begins an affair with Lilith

 

and Molly learns of the affair and packs her bags to leave Stan, but he catches up to her at the train station, and convinces her to stay

 

At the Kimball house, Mrs. Kimball has lost her mind and believes that based on what Stan told her, she will be reunited with Julian

 

She shoots her husband in the head, before turning the gun on herself

 

Grindle wishes to see Dory again, so Stan plans with Molly to fake a seance since Molly slightly resembles Dory based on a sketch he saw

 

Stan meets Grindle in the cemetery, where he admits to Stan that he abused women in his lifetime and he feels responsible for what happened to Dory

 

Molly puts on her outfit and throws fake blood on herself

 

However, when Grindle gets too close and starts grabbing her Molly backs out

 

Grindle becomes angered and strikes Molly, before threatening Stan

 

Stan responds by punching Grindle to death, hitting him hard enough to break his nose clean off

 

Anderson comes out in response, but Stan and Molly begin driving away and Stan runs Anderson over twice killing him

 

When they get away, Molly leaves Stan for good

 

Stan returns to Lilith’s office, where she reveals that she was scamming him and taking all the money he was collecting from Grindle

 

She shoots Stan in the ear, and when he attacks her she gets the police to come

 

Stan flees, before he is caught and runs to a train

 

A few years pass

 

Stan is now homeless, broke and a full-blown alcoholic

 

He ends up at another carnival where he speaks to the boss tries to offer himself to do the clairvoyant act, but the boss turns him away

 

He does offer Stan a drink and a job at being the new geek

 

Stan says he was born for it and he begins  to laugh through his sobs

Nightmare Alley.

1 comment
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