The Neon Demon: Film Review


I am not a diehard Nicolas Winding Refn fan – I like Drive and that’s about it. I absolutely hated Only God Forgives, so my expectations were extremely low for The Neon Demon, especially when I read about its crazy content following its debut at Cannes. Because of the forewarning, I probably wasn’t as shocked as I should have been, so for me, the film was fine and I liked it.


Elle Fanning is Jesse, a 16-year-old aspiring model from a small town who has just moved to LA. Her star rises quickly, which drives models Sarah (Abbey Lee) and Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) wild with jealousy and bloodlust.

This isn’t a fun, enjoyable film that I would recommend everybody to watch. If you like Refn or know his work, then I would still say have a quick look at the headlines to have an idea of what’s to come. Though, to be fair, I kinda wish I hadn’t done that because I was prepared for all the gruesome stuff so it didn’t affect me so much. Malone fingering a corpse on a mortuary table?! No big. I knew there was female necrophilia from the Cannes headlines so I saw it coming.

Abbey Lee as Sarah

Abbey Lee as Sarah

I liked what the film was trying to say about the modelling industry and the importance placed on looks. I just wish there was more to it. The plot is very simplistic yet the movie is 117 minutes so it is bulked out by beautiful, stylistic shots, some quirky experimental shots and overlong moments of Fanning’s face. I just wish the pacing was tightened up, the characters were given more depth and some of the random shots were cut out because it distracted from the building tension.

I could appreciate it from a style point of view and I liked Fanning and Lee a lot, I also thought the casting of Keanu Reeves and Desmond Harrington as creepy supporting dudes was perfect and the soundtrack is my favourite thing about it. Stick around to hear Sia’s original song – I have listened to it on repeat this evening.

Although the gross stuff made the headlines, I wasn’t bothered by that so much – possibly due to forewarning, but also because they actually made sense within the crazy storyline and it was obvious what was about to happen. The only issue I had was a prolonged shot of Sarah and Gigi taking a shower together to get the blood off their naked bodies. That felt completely gratuitous.

I went in fully expecting to hate The Neon Demon because of what I had read in advance but it’s actually okay. It’s not quite as nasty as I had been lead to believe – I was honestly bracing myself for way worse. It looks gorgeous and it is gripping enough but it’s nothing to rave about.

In cinemas now 



  1. So crazy, but hey, kind of fun, too. Nice review.


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