The Neon Demon
Amazon Studios & Broad Green Pictures
Reviewed by: Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer for Shockya
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Polly Stenham
Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Desmond Harrington, Alessandro Nivola, Bella Heathcote, Karl Glusman,
Release Date: June 24th, 2016
When sixteen-year old pretty Jesse (Elle Fanning) arrives in Los Angeles her aim is to break into the fashion industry. Little does she know that in this “dog-eat-dog” world a model is “finished” by the time she turns twenty-one. The competition is fierce but Jesse manages to charm many including: Dean (Karl Glusman), her new best friend and photographer; Ruby (Jena Malone), an older make-up artist for models by day and cadavers by night; Jack (Desmond Harrington), a known photographer; a major fashion designer (Alessandro Nivola); and Hank (Keanu Reeves), a strange motel owner who helps himself for nightly R&R at his guests rooms.
The Neon Demon is a horror thriller, directed interestingly by director Nicolas Winding Refn, photographed in psychedelic colors by Natasha Braier, composed with Techno music by Cliff Martinez, outfitted with attractive costumes by Erin Benach and creative make-up by Erin Ayanian.
The major faults here are the screenplay and direction. At 117 minutes the film is too long, where each scene is stretched to the max without taking the plot any further. A simple “end-of-show” walk” on the runway turns into a long hallucinatory scene where Jesse sees her reflection multiple times in the mirror; a “visit” by Hank to Jesse’s room turns violent without a resolution.
Elle Fanning, in the role of Jesse, appears as a soft spoken country girl at first, but turns into a catatonic pretty dole with eyes half closed that put the viewer on my left to sleep, during a recent screening. Jena Malone, in the role of Ruby, acts like a predator from the get-go, for no apparent reason, performing an attempted rape on Jesse and a necrophiliac sex act on a cadaver in the morgue. Stunt work, for Elle Fanning, is skillfully done by Joanna Bennett.
The Neon Demon, shot in Amboy, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Malibu and Silver Lake, is beautiful to look at with colors, costumes and music, but its absurdly long plot makes this creation less than satisfactory.
Rated R. 117 minutes. © Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer