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Neon Demon, The - Amazon Studios Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Richard Taylor   
Monday, 19 September 2016


AKA: Neonski Demon, Demônio de Neon, Le démon de neon, Neon demon, Neoninis demonas, El demonio neon, The Neon Demon - O Demónio de Néon, Неоновый демон, Ní hóng èmó

Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Produced by: Nicolas Winding Refn, Lene Borglum, Sidonie Dumas, Vincent Maraval
Cinematography by: Natasha Braier
Editing by: Matthew Newman
Special Effects by: Wayne Burnes
Music: Cliff Martinez
Cast: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves
Year: 2016
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 58min

Studio: Wild Bunch, Space Rocket Nation, Bold Films
Distributor: Amazon Studios

Not being familiar with director Nicolas Winding Refn and his previous films, such as Drive, I went into The Neon Demon relatively blind. I read a lot of people praising it and probably just as many panning it. I normally avoid other reviews before I watch a movie but some things which caught my eye with the praises of The Neon Demon was high regard for the soundtrack and camera work, two things I am an absolute sucker for in most movies. I am always in need of a good script and story as well but I always take a different mind-set with every approach to each film, whether it be low budget German gore, experimental films, slashers, horror, action etcetera. The Neon Demon is a bigger budgeted film and relatively different from a lot of the indie horror I often find myself leaning towards. I can honestly say I enjoyed the movie, the visuals, sets, costumes and music made it an encompassing original experience for me.

The Neon Demon is a fresh approach to modern shallow and fashion style horror which suits 2016 and its society to a fucking tee. I am not familiar with Los Angles California, where the movie is based, except for what I see on television and movies and I have no idea of the fashion scene which resides there but from media and Hollywood coverage I have a pretty good idea of its utter black hole swallowing shallowness and I can only imagine what dark monsters lie within there.

In The Neon Demon, all the characters are trying to make it in the fashion scene. We get a look at the semi-successful still working day jobs, the price of looking good, the naive new girl in town, the amateur photographer, the nice guy who finishes last, those who are cast out in failure, the almost made its and the incandescent glow of jealousy. There are deplorable characters in The Neon Demon but some are way more deplorable than others and the nice ones are just fodder for the machine -- cogs in the wheel.

Elle Fanning as Jesse in the lead role plays innocence personified and then some. In saying that, as the movie progresses, and as we get more dialogue from her, I wonder if she ever really was that innocent. In different instances in the movie we get to realize she knows of her perfected and pure innocent model look that all the designers and photographers are dying to work with. The movie shows a side of the model industry which is built on only looks and lies and it seems no experience is required. You either have it or you don't, and if you do it’s easy to make a name for yourself. As quoted in the movie "beauty is the only currency" and they have built fucking empires on this quote. 

The Neon Demon is the story of Jesse, the cliché of the small town girl moving to L.A. to become a model. The only difference is, Jesse is the girl that every agency wants to have, she has a natural beauty and purity that all of the career models around her could only dream of. Jesse befriends Ruby (Jena Malone, The Messenger), a bizarre but somewhat friendly and concerned make-up artist that hits the creepy button high on volume 10. Ruby introduces two of her model friends Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), who are the most opposite of Jesse, they are ignorance and fake beauty dressed up with fashion to the highest level. Jesse is also involved with Dean (Karl Glusman, from Gaspar Noé's Love), a very genuine and sincere amateur photographer it seems. Jesse is staying at a seedy motel ran by Hank (Keanu Reeves) in a great role. Keanu definitely needs to focus on his more sleazier and villainous roles because this part is pure gold, and he provides the only black humor in this otherwise serious affair.

There is so much visually stimulating material to take in with The Neon Demon, one watch is definitely not enough. We get the symbolism, metaphors – it’s all here. The musical score is brilliant and captivating and is a big player for me in the movie. The visuals, costume design, set design team and make-up department are all held in high regard with their work on this. It brings to life this anti fairy tale. The movie is a dark and dim experience wrapped in a beauteous exterior, a modern visual horror feast. It’s a movie that you will love or hate and not much in between. Love it for what it is or hate it, just take it all in. The Neon Demon is a twisted myriad of jealously, exterior beauty, deplorable people and actions.





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