The Dec. 1 release date for Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is fast approaching, and SYFY WIRE’s got some exclusive peeks at images from the film — a work that more than one early reviewer is calling a serious Oscar contender.
From Hellboy to Pan’s Labyrinth to Pacific Rim, del Toro’s visual mind has always piqued critics’ interest and drawn him a devoted fan following. But working in a genre milieu that spans horror, fantasy, and spectacle hasn’t often put his work on watch lists when awards season rolls around.
That may be about to change. The Shape of Water tells a monster story that, at first blush, looks a whole lot like King Kong or Beauty and the Beast. But from the start, the film raises the stakes a cut beyond what its cinematic predecessors have led audiences to expect.
Del Toro hamstrings his two main characters — on the one hand, an Amazonian water monster-turned-horribly mistreated government experiment (played by Doug Jones); on the other, Elisa, a mute cleaning woman (played by Sally Hawkins) who handles the lab where he’s kept — with nearly insurmountable communication barriers that amplify the love story at the film's emotional center.
It’s a move that elevates the human stakes, even as it humanizes the monster. Together, Elisa and the monster work to devise a means of communicating... just in time for them to both realize how powerless they are to defeat the doggedly hostile outside forces who care little for their triumph at transcending intimate barriers.