The Neon Demon

03/05/2018 07:22

Film: The Neon Demon

Year: 2016

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws and Polly Stenham

Starring: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks and Keanu Reeves



This film begins with a woman having blood on her and she is lying on a couch. She is played by Elle Fanning. It turns out that this is for a photo shoot. The photographer is Karl Glusman. When Fanning is done, she goes into the make-up room to wash off the blood. There she meets Jena Malone who is a make-up artist. They talk and Malone helps her clean up. She then invites her to a party.

There she meets Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee. Both are models and they show a little interest in Fanning. Neither of them really had heard of her and she seems pretty shy about the questions they are asking.

From there we meet Christina Hendricks. She is interviewing Fanning and decides to sign her to her modeling agency. She does feel that the pictures she used are kind of amateur and she asks her to go see a famous photographer for better ones. She goes to this and he is Desmond Harrington. Fanning gets her make-up done by Malone who is also there. Harrington takes a look at her and tells everyone to leave; this is going to be a closed set. Malone wants to stay, but she is commanded to leave. Harrington has her undress and photographs her.

Fanning goes to leave and Malone is waiting outside. She tells Fanning not to trust Harrington, but she is glad it went well. We do see that Fanning is kind of dating Glusman. They go out and we learn that Fanning is 16. He takes her home and Fanning asks to see him again. She goes to go into her room and sees something move in the shadows. She then goes down to landlord, Keanu Reeves. He gets his buddy, Charles Baker to come with him. It turns out there is a wildcat in her room, which Reeves isn’t happy about.

We then see Malone meet with Heathcote and Lee at a diner. They order coffees and talk about Fanning. Malone thinks she is going to be big, but the other two don’t. Malone points out that Harrington took pictures of her and that he is shopping them. Lee sees first hand when she is not chosen by a casting director, but Fanning is.

What will happen with Fanning in this dangerous industry? What is up with the other two women? Can they coexist or has their time passed?

Now this film I was turned on to by podcasts I listen to and most of them had this in their top horror films from 2016. After seeing it, I can definitely see why. The story isn’t overly complex, but it doesn’t need to be. The important aspects of the film are the horrific telling of the story, the acting and the visuals. This story boils down to an allegory about how cutthroat and tough the modeling world can be for those starting out. Some women just have the natural look, while some try to manufacture it. We see this with Heathcote and what she has to go through. Fanning is also underage and trying to traverse this. It definitely brings up the issue of losing your innocence. She is already naïve and those around her take advantage. That is what makes Glusman’s character better for me. He truly likes her and wants to help. Now from there, the colors in this film are absolutely amazing. They are so vivid and they are contrasted so well to make things pop. I love what happens at the climax and the interesting way this film concludes.

I’ve said that the acting is important for this film and it delivers. Fanning was amazing. We see a duality to her character with the nativity with being hesitant to do some things, but then you see her letting go at others. I loved how well she played this role and I was blown away. Malone is interesting, because she seems to truly love Fanning. What happens in the climax shocked me in a good way. Heathcote and Lee were great as well. They are so confident in themselves, until they see Fanning’s true potential. It was also good to see cameos by Hendricks, Reeves and Harrington. I’ve seen them all in other things and they round out this cast well.

I’ve kind of touched on the visuals already, but the effects of this film are great. The blood in the film looks good. I do believe that the effects used are all practical. They do some great things with colors and lights to make this film have such a surreal feel that I loved. The editing of the film did have some issues for me. The film does run a little long in my opinion and some of these moments that are just visual could have been trimmed to tighten this film. The film does well still in building tension until the climax. I also want to talk about the score of the film. It was absolutely amazing. I want to buy this soundtrack. It helped enhance the surreal feel of the scenes as well ramp up my anxiety, which I loved.

Now with that said, I would highly recommend seeing this film. The story isn’t the most complex, but it doesn’t need to be. It is a simple story of an underage girl trying to make it in a cutthroat industry. What happens at the climax though was quite shocking and it’s great. The acting was amazing across the board. The visuals and the score of the film were as well. The editing has its issues, but it still builds the tension that it needed to. The effects of the film were also solid. I feel that this film though could be polarizing. I personally think it is very good and I think it deserves a viewing.


My Rating: 9 out of 10