The Neon Demon tells the story of when aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.
I honestly have no words for this film. It was probably one of the worst films I have seen in a long time and honestly don’t know why it caused such a positive buzz. Like many of director Nicholas Winding Refn’s films, there is a lot of style and little to no substance. The Neon Demon is the pinnacle of examples of form following function with what better way to show this through the empty and heartless world of modelling scene in LA. If this was the point of the film, he has definitely made it loud and clear.
Winding Refn has definitely made himself abundantly clear as a visual auteur but nothing else. As a storyteller, he still has a long way to go, and maybe would do better in music videos with his visual style, handing scriptwriting duties off to another much like he did with Drive (which was still average at best), or maybe should just lend his hand to cinematography instead as his last two efforts in Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon nothing more than horrifically “pleasing.” The bare basics of this film of a sixteen-year-old model literally being devoured by the fashion industry is hardly anything more than something to carry his visual capabilities. This film is literally like a fashion magazine such as Vogue or Elle – there are many “glamorous” photos but they’re mindless and without any text. The Neon Demon is like a look book where you can peruse through the two hours of footage presented but by the time you reach the end, there’s no message other than the endless display of what society portrays as beauty.
To accentuate all of this, Winding Refn has added horror elements to the film that is less horror and more gore and disgust. Combining these two elements just makes this film ridiculous and somewhat irritating, especially towards the end of the film where it just became porn for the male viewer as it began to take more of a misogynistic approach. I was disgusted by what I saw on the screen and how the female characters were portrayed. At multiple times I found myself gagging in disgust.
The acting from actresses and actors that have performed well in their previous efforts, come across as unnaturally pretentious but I guess this stems from an extremely lacking script and a poor director. The soundtrack thumps a reminder into the audience of what kind of world we’re in and further’s their disgust of what’s being portrayed on the screen.
If you like the mindlessness of scrolling through fashion magazines and not wanting to actually follow a coherent and promising storyline with well acted performances, then this is the film for you – a mindless disgrace.