The Neon Demon announced itself as a visual feast from danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, the man behind legendary neo-noir crime drama Drive starring Ryan Gosling.
The trailer is a big mess of colors and glitter that both sparkle all over gorgeous men and women and, even after watching ten times, it will leave you questioning what the whole thing is actually about. After seeing the movie I can tell you that it probably won’t answer any of your questions. However, it will leave you hungry for more nevertheless.
Back in 2014, when they just started working on the concept of the movie, Refn said:
One morning I woke and realized I was both surrounded and dominated by women. Strangely, a sudden urge was planted in me to make a horror film about vicious beauty. After making ‘Drive’ and falling madly in love with the electricity of Los Angeles, I knew I had to return to tell the story of ‘The Neon Demon.’ This movie is a manifestation of the strong ties between us and will lead to many more adventures.
Jesse (Elle Fanning), a 16 year-old aspiring model from a small village, moves to L.A. to start her career. Three women, Ruby (Jena Malone), Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), become jealous and obsessive of the attention she is getting. Their obsession for Jesse’s youth, beauty and lustiness becomes a violent attempt at consuming her allure.
On the surface, The Neon Demon seems like a commentary on contemporary society’s idolatry of the superficial, posing as a reflection of the pressures associated to the modelling industry. While I agree with that reading, the sublime triangle/prism imagery in The Neon Demon suggests that the film can be viewed from a variety of angles and will reflect a plethora of colors.
The women in the movie are haunting. „Are you food? Or are you sex?“ says Ruby to Jesse in one scene. This simple question underlines the tragic way that women see each other in The Neon Demon: as two forms of consumption. Either way they are just living for the benefits of someone else.
The Neon Demon is a companion piece to Drive inasmuch as it examines the fairytale world from the side of the princess and what happens to the many princesses when they realize they are not chosen to be one.
As a horror movie, it obviously is not made for everyone. There are plenty of negative reviews of it on the internet, saying it is absurd and empty at its core.
However, if you’re a fan of stunning visuals and if you’re into just a completely different movie than what you’re used towatch, definitely give it a try!
As cliché as it may seem, the film toys with the notion that looks can be deceiving, and all I can hear right now is The Neon Demon whispering:
“I’m not as helpless as I seem.”