Guillermo del Toro is a master of spinning dark fairy tales that toss humans and otherworldly creatures into the same room, exploring what kind of bizarre, beautiful shenanigans they get themselves into. Now, more than a decade after Pan's Labyrinth's release, the Mexican American director is going back to his roots with The Shape of Water, a film equal parts fantasy, history, and horror about a janitor who befriends an aquatic alien.
According to the Verge, Fox Searchlight dropped the film's first trailer Wednesday, and in it we meet Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman tasked with cleaning a Cold War–era government lab alongside her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer). Elisa lives out a tedious, repetitive existence—punching the clock, mopping floors, shining her shoes—before discovering a mysterious Amazonian creature held captive by the government. The two forge a close (possibly romantic?) relationship, giving her a sense of belonging she can't seem to find among humans.
Elisa soon finds herself fighting for the creature's life, as an intimidating research boss (played by Michael Shannon) vows to "take it apart" to understand how the US might use its extraterrestrial powers to fight the Russians. All hell breaks loose, and each of the film's supporting characters—played by Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Nick Searcy, among others—line up on either side of the war for the creature's life.
The trailer might look a little whimsical—almost like a Disney joint, at times—but The Shape of Water isn't a kids movie. Like Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone, and Crimson Peak before it, the film's secured an R rating, which means we'll probably see del Toro doing what he does best: Taking an offbeat fantasy story and spinning it into a bleak nightmare.
Check out the trailer for The Shape of Water above before it hits theaters December 8.