Guillermo del Toro is arguably one of the most sought-after and interesting directors working today. With titles such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak in his filmography, the promise of a third film in the cult franchise Hellboy and a follow-up to giant robot-punchers Pacific Rim has left some fans craving more original, standalone stories. And that’s where his latest, a currently untitled, Cold War-set, supernatural mystery, comes in (although strong rumour is it’s called The Shape of Water).
Not only has del Toro been busy working on Trollhunters, a children’s story adapted into an animated series for Netflix, he’s also had his hands full developing Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and it seems his newest project is beginning to gather pace with talk of who will play the villain.
As snippets of information circulate, THR reports that talks with Michael Shannon (Midnight Special) are underway. With talent such as Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stulhbarg, and Octavia Spencer attached, THR says that Shannon would appear as the story’s main antagonist – though who that character might be remains unknown. Set during the height of the Cold War, The Shape of Water is reportedly about the story of Elisa (Hawkins), a mute woman working as a janitor at a mysterious lab. While there, she discovers an amphibious man who’s being held prisoner and the two develop feelings for one another. After the pair fall in love, Elisa, with the help of her neighbor, decides to free him, yet life in the outside world proves challenging and dangerous for the romantic pair.
Shannon would no doubt be a fitting choice to be the film’s centerpiece villain, with a series of intimidating performances to his name, as per what we see in the likes of Shotgun Stories, Bug, and Take Shelter. His repertoire certainly implies he’s more than capable of handling whatever layered, brooding, and ambiguous character del Toro has in mind for him, especially with Shannon’s physical stature and demeanour that can be adapted for an unsavoury role. The likelihood is that he’ll be part of the laboratory’s staff set-up (the main ‘mad scientist’, perhaps, who has created this hybrid man?)
Once more details emerge on the project, fans can begin to forge early optimism on what we can expect from del Toro’s latest venture – whether it’ll be something gloriously chilling as per The Devil’s Backbone or oozing with atmosphere like his most recent, Crimson Peak. Hopefully we’ll get a healthy combo of the two, but from what we know so far it appears it could be akin to the director’s acclaimed, original efforts, with an era specific film that weaves in an otherworldly love story with elements of horror and fantasy.
As it stands, The Shape of Water could be del Toro back to his spine-tingling best, with a period piece that blends the genres he’s synonymous for. Throw in the solid cast that’s beginning to take shape and it’s plenty of reason to have faith in what the skilled maestro could conjure up next.
The Shape of Water doesn’t currently have a release date, but we’ll keep you updated as development continues.