The Neon Demon



24 June 2016| No Comments on The Neon Demon     by Sean Chavel


It’s that rare feeling I have where it seems burdensome to give some wacko movie a try, and then I find myself unable to turn away. I didn’t realize for awhile that it wasn’t worth a try at all. The Neon Demon is a surrealist horror flick by Nicolas Winding Refn who is not the kind of director who wants to make friends in Hollywood, even though “Drive” with Ryan Gosling was an international success. He wants to impose repulsion on his audience, as much as his last movie “Only God Forgives” did. Just like that Refn entry, “Neon” is trancelike and removed from reality. Without saying much (no dialogue here is worth quoting), it dwells on very black humor in an attempt to acquit itself. It fails.

Elle Fanning is a 16-year old innocent blonde angel named Jesse who has landed in Los Angeles, immediately she becomes something of an “It” girl, and the envy of some very jaded models who exploit their bodies at any turn for the glitzy life. The film stars Jena Malone, too, who is both a mortician and some kind of on-set assistant for hire on photo shoots, whose fetishes are even more bizarre than anyone else’s. Keanu Reeves is also (shockingly) featured, whose very small part requires him to perform as a cretin motel manager with zero patience. Only for a moment do we think he is going to have a bigger part in all of this.

As for atmosphere? This is the kind of horror movie that hints at ominous things, continually hinting, and then more hinting. Then it can be very mean and cruel, only to hint at stranger things yet to come.

You may find yourself glued to the baroque filmmaking style. Refn has a way of panning the camera during a photo shoot, and you just keep your eyes glued to it because you wonder… how much further left can he pan the camera and still make the shot make sense? The blonde bimbos have a lunch and have meaningless talks that are David Lynch-like in its alienated detachment. Jesse is singled out at a casting call that prompts one rejected model to go insane shattering glass in the bathroom. Jesse has a bad dream, that’s just very nasty. Some other weirdness happens.

Hints and foreboding, that’s what Refn is good at. It’s just foreboding, some more foreboding, and then some hints then foreboding and then more foreboding, until Refn has finally no choice but to unleash at least something on us. And certainly, that final something sure was gross.

118 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “The Centerfold Girls” (1974); “Suspiria” (1977, Italy); “Eyes of Laura Mars” (1978); “Only God Forgives” (2013).

Neon_Demon_Post _2016 _FlickMinute_review

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are No Comments about this post

Add Yours!

You must be logged in to post a comment.