Guillermo del Toro knows how to revitalize horror tropes: Cronos gave vampires their bite back; The Devil’s Backbone made ghosts haunting again; and Pan’s Labyrinth showed just how shockingly grim a fairytale can be. Fusing Terry Gilliam (Brazil), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (The City of Lost Children) and classic monster movies, The Shape of Water reinvents the creature feature as established by Universal’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein, where the monster warrants sympathy and mankind deserves condemnation.
Although del Toro has primarily spent the last few years directing and producing big budget action flicks and kid-friendly animated features like Pacific Rim, the Hellboy series, and The Book of Life, 2015’s clumsy Crimson Peak demonstrated that he is still deadly serious about horror.
The latest trailer for The Shape of Water provides greater narrative detail and a longer preview of the visually captivating Cold War-era setting. Sally Hawkins portrays Elisa Esposito, a deaf employee at a secret government facility. Esposito and her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) encounter a top-secret scientific marvel: a gill-man (Doug Jones). Esposito and Zelda attempt to liberate the creature with the help of Giles (Richard Jenkins), but their hard-nosed boss Strickland (a devilish Michael Shannon) seeks to thwart their efforts.
Del Toro has clearly rediscovered his calling. Whereas Pacific Rim was all about the spectacle, The Shape of Water is an unlikely romance between two outsiders, with the catch being that one of the outsiders is an amphibious humanoid.
Watch the Red Band trailer below:
The Shape of Water will swim into theaters on December the 8th of this year.