NIGHTMARE ALLEY (Cert 15, 144 mins, streaming from March 16 exclusively on Disney+, Thriller/Romance, available from March 21 on DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £21.99)
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, David Strathairn, Ron Perlman, Richard Jenkins.
STANTON Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) joins a carnival run by Clem Hoatley (Willem Dafoe) and learns the tricks of the trade from fading double act Zeena and Pete Krumbein (Toni Collette, David Strathairn).
The new arrival beguiles naive showgirl Molly Cahill (Rooney Mara) and the lovebirds run away to establish their own speciality act at the Copacabana club in Buffalo, New York.
A diabolical deception involving Dr Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) and her former patient, powerful industrialist Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins), is a swindle too far for Stanton.
"If your foot slips, we both fall," Lilith sternly reminds the chancer.
Nightmare Alley is a stylish noir thriller based on William Lindsay Gresham's novel, which was previously adapted for the screen in 1947 with Tyrone Power as the scheming carnival worker destined to fall from grace.
Oscar-winning Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's incarnation, co-written by Kim Morgan, doesn't have to jump through censorship hoops like its predecessor, boasting full-frontal male nudity and spurts of stomach-churning violence.
Glorious production and costume design seduce the eyes but the heart goes a-wanting, despite simmering sexual tension between Cooper and Blanchett ("I know you're no good. I know that because neither am I!")
Pacing is pedestrian and only shifts out of first gear in a breathless closing act.
Fantastical, otherworldly elements, a signature of del Toro's earlier work including Pan's Labyrinth and The Shape Of Water, are all smoke and mirrors here.
The con feels like it may be on us to muster concern for underwritten and doomed characters as decapitated chickens come home to roost.
UPLOAD – SEASON 2 (7 episodes, streaming from March 11 exclusively on Prime Video, Sci-Fi/Comedy/Drama/Romance)
THE playful sci-fi comedy, which proves death is just the beginning of a fulfilling life, returns to Prime Video under the continued stewardship of Greg Daniels, co-creator of King Of The Hill and Parks And Recreation.
When we left 20-something computer engineering graduate and computer programmer Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell), he was living in a luxurious virtual reality environment after a premature death in his self-driving car.
Nathan's high-maintenance girlfriend Ingrid Kannerman (Allegra Edwards) had just uploaded herself to continue their relationship but his affections had secretly shifted to Nora (Andy Allo), the Brooklyn-born customer service agent in the real world, responsible for acclimatising him to the digital realm.
In the second series, Nora heeds the advice of her father (Chris Williams) to trust her gut instinct and uncover evidence that Nathan's death was in fact cold-blooded murder.