Secrets and Soviets abound in new The Shape of Water red band trailer

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Mar 26, 2021, 4:00 PM EDT (Updated)

Still on the fence about seeing Guillermo del Toro's upcoming Cold War fairy tale, The Shape of Water? Then maybe this new red band trailer will change your mind. The preview brings the action, the cursing, the violence, the Commie-driven fear, and, of course, the strange "fish" man who is central to the plot.

Set in the 1960s, at the height of the near-nuclear conflict between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., The Shape of Water is a love story that only del Toro could think up and tell properly. In particular, it's about a mute woman, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), who falls for a half-man, half amphibian (Doug Jones) that is trapped and tested upon in a top-secret government lab in Baltimore, where Elisa works in a custodial capacity.

Along to help her break the creature out are Elisa's co-worker Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) and her next-door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins). Out to stop them is Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), the head of the government installation. The trailer drives home just how evil and crazy his character is, almost like the American counterpart of Sergi López's Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth.

Indeed, the entire movie seems to be the director taking bits and pieces from some of his most beloved works: fantasy juxtaposed against wartime from Pan's Labyrinth, the fish/human hybrid reminiscent of Abe Sapien from Hellboy, and the unconventional romance of Crimson Peak. Incredibly, The Shape of Water is a massively talented director using his most notable trademarks to create something brand-new.

In sum, the new trailer appears to preview a film that will be genuinely scary, thrilling, and heartbreaking in equal measure. Watch it and marvel at the beautiful shot compositions, the utilization of dark greens, blues, browns, and reds. They all help to trap The Shape of Water in a temporal bubble, purposefully enticing audiences into the universe of its otherworldy story -- a place so nostalgic, yet so disassociated from reality. And since it takes place in the 1960s, when the fear of radiation and mutually assured destruction was greatest in America, it is no doubt an homage to the great sci-fi, horror, and B-level monster movies of the era, many of which dealt with the government fighting against or creating irradiated monsters. The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Them!, TarantulaThe Trollenberg Terror, and The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, among others, all come to mind.