Fox Searchlight has shared the first trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s next film — and from the trailer it looks Pan’s Labyrinth-level brutal, sweet, and gorgeous. Like that film — about a girl engaging with a fantastical realm as a distraction from the atrocities being committed around her just following the Spanish Civil War — Del Toro’s latest combines historic specificity with a completely crazy fable. Set in Cold War America (in 1963), it takes place at a secret government facility, where a mute cleaning lady (played by Happy Go Lucky and Blue Jasmine‘s Sally Hawkins) begins getting emotionally attached to a fishman-thing the lab is keeping in captivity.
Michael Shannon plays the man overseeing the experiment — and as with any narrative about a creature-oriented science project (recall the recent Okja), you can pretty much be certain that the higher-ups don’t exactly have a happy life planned for the captive being. Shannon’s delivery of the line, “We need to take it apart and learn how it works,” certainly confirms that.
The trailer also features Octavia Spencer as another worker at the lab, as well as Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Lauren Lee Smith. Doug Jones, who plays creatures in del Toro movies all the time — and, in fact, played the fishy Abe Sapien in Hellboy — also plays The Shape of Water’s marine character. Jones gave character details to Collider:
I’m an enigma, nobody knows where I came from; I’m the last of my species so I’m like a natural anomaly. And I’m being studied and tested in a U.S. government facility in 1963, so the Russian Cold War is on, the race for space is on, so there’s all that backdrop and that undercurrent. I’m being tested for how can they use me for advantages in military or space travel, or my technology—can we make this usable for humans?
Watch the trailer:
The Shape of Water will be out December 8.