The Neon Demon Movie Review
Style over substance from beginning to end, the moody sort-of thriller The Neon Demon is beautiful and mesmerizing, but also completely vapid and ultimately useless.
Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, an underage model who begins to hit it big—at the expense of other, slightly older models around her. She, along with the rest of the cast (which includes Jena Malone and cameos by Christina Hendricks and Keanu Reeves), spends most of her time staring off into space while set against extremely gorgeous and occasionally surreal set pieces.
All the staring and contemplating and looking pretty works for a while—director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) is no stranger to making visually impressive films, and between the pensive score, intoxicating visuals and overall sexy vibe, The Neon Demon feels like something ripped right out of the 70’s—but as the movie inches closer and closer to the climax, you begin to realize that whatever story the movie theoretically has never made its way out of Refn’s head and onto the screen.
While the climax is on its own somewhat satisfying, the movie in its entirety makes you want to do nothing more than shrug. The ending implies Refn had some dark visions and ideas, but if he truly wanted to get twisted, he should have gone all the way—The Neon Demon feels half-assed and only marginally thought out, not dark or disturbing enough to make up for its lack of substance.
The Neon Demon may be referred to as a horror movie or a thriller, but neither classification helpsit become anything more than what it is: a beautiful, occasionally mesmerizing cloud of nothingness.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.