4K Review: Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” is a Visual Masterpiece on 4K-Ultra HD

“What goes around comes around” is the morality tale of Nightmare Alley, a classic novel that gets a new adaptation from the mind of Guillermo del Toro. Nominated for Best Picture, the Searchlight Pictures film arrives on 4K Ultra-HD and Blu-Ray days ahead of this year’s Oscars. Whether you’re already a fan or want to check out the Oscars competition, this home video release offers the best picture and sound for videophiles to experience it in the second-best way possible, since movie theaters may no longer be an option.

(Searchlight Pictures)

(Searchlight Pictures)

Drifter Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) happens upon a carnival and soon talks his way into a job with a “clairvoyant” act (Toni Collette and David Strathairn), learning the tricks of their trade and taking his love interest Molly (Rooney Mara) with him to greener pastures. But when their new act is interrupted by Doctor Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), a psychologist who gets him to reveal his tricks in exchange for information about the wealthy and elite. As Stanton pursues darker and more twisted means of conning people out of their money, he finds that karma is ready to strike back.

With a devilishly fun narrative and in Guillermo del Toro’s expert hands, Nightmare Alley is visually striking and exciting. All of the actors are at the top of their game and it’s easy to see why the film has been so powerful this awards season. On home video, fans can also get a peek behind the scenes through a few bonus features.

Bonus Features

  • Del Toro’s Neo-Noir (11:19) – 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 (8:26) – 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 (5:23) – 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.

Video

A visual masterpiece, Nightmare Alley looks exquisite in 4K. The darkest scenes contain rich and inky blacks while bright colors, used to powerful effect, pop off the screen.

Audio

Audio options is the one place of confusion for this release, with the Blu-Ray favoring a 5.1 English DTS-HDMA mix over the standard 7.1 for new releases on the format. The equivalent on 4K is a Dolby Atmos mix that seems to fill those bonus channels. Other audio options on both discs include a stereo descriptive audio mix, plus French and Spanish in 5.1.

Packaging & Design

The 4K/Blu-Ray/Digital Copy combo pack, also known as the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” comes housed in a standard black Blu-Ray case with a slipcover in its initial pressing. Both discs are held on the interior of the case, with only the 4K disc including disc art. The only insert is a Movies Anywhere digital copy code.

There aren’t any previews on either disc. The main menu is a static image that repeats the artwork from the front of the case set to score.

Final Thoughts

Nightmare Alley is spectacular and deserving of all of its nominations. Whether you’re looking to catch up before the Oscars or want to savor this neo-noir masterpiece again and again, the home video release provides the best picture and audio available. While the bonus features are a little light, they are at least insightful.

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Amazon.com: Nightmare Alley (Feature) [4K UHD]