The Neon Demon
Runtime: 1h 57m
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Polly Stenham
Stars: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote
“He calls me the bionic woman.”
“Is that a compliment?”
Initial: A horror movie by the director of one of my favorite movies (Drive (2011))?
Production Notes: This is the second time that Jena Malone shows up on my list. She was also in Antebellum (2020).
What Did I Think:
This is 20% horror movie, 80% Nicolas Winding Refn movie—lots of moody hallways, synth music, and awkward dialog. Listen, I don’t really know why I like Refn’s movies as much as I do. (Haven’t seen Bronson or the Pusher movies yet.) They’re sort of like a great 90s music video pulled out into a two hour movie. This shouldn’t work and, for a lot of people, it doesn’t.
The Neon Demon is pretty light on plot. Jesse arrives in Los Angeles, looking to become a model. The reaction to her by people in the industry is that she is so beautiful, that they can’t NOT work with her. This sparks jealousy in other models who seek to capture some of her magic. Jesse is played by Elle Fanning. Fanning is very lovely, but is she really *that* good looking? Or is her beauty meant to be supernatural? I don’t know, I’m asking. The horror bits, when they happen, are be turns gory and uncomfortable.
I’ll take my fall-back Refn position: I liked this movie, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. But, if you haven’t seen Drive, you should.