The latest offering from director Nicolas Winding Refn, Neon Demon is his version of a horror film, filled with pulsating music and florescent lighting. Whatever. A cutting commentary on the fashion industry, The Neon Demon is pretentious and boring. Horror fans will likely be asleep long before the blood starts flowing more than an hour into the proceedings. While Refn offers up the beautiful imagery that has become a trademark of his work, The Neon Demon doesn’t have much else to offer.

The limited story involves the arrival of girl-next-door Jesse (Elle Fanning) and her arrival in oh-so decadent Las Angeles. There to work as a model, she has what everyone in the industry recognizes as “it.” It’s not long before all the top photographers and fashion designers are fawning all over her. She makes friends with goth makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone) who introduces her to two gorgeous models (Abbey Lee and Bella Heathcote). The two models get to watch with escalating jealously as Jesse’s star begins to rise.

A sensation after her first runway show, we watch as Jesse as she transforms from an all-American girl to a narcissistic mannequin for haute couture. Her life becomes a whirlwind of photo shoots with a sadistic photographer (Desmond Harrington), dress fittings, runway shows and countless parties.

Midway through, the narrative takes a bloody turn, becoming a tale of revenge. Make-up artist Ruby—who has a taste for necrophilia—is none too pleased that Jesse rejected her romantic advances and those two models Ruby introduced Jesse to, consumed with jealousy, have had it with Jesse’s growing narcissism.

I have to admit Jena Malone is very sexy and frightening when she goes all Fatal Attraction on Jesse. She pushes the envelope a lot farther than I thought the film would dare to go. As the three girls unleash their fury on Jesse, the ending is gory, over-the-top and yes, somewhat funny.

That said, in order for The Neon Demon to work, you have to buy Jesse’s ‘it” quality. However, we never get to see what it is about her that has set the modeling world on fire. Further, while Elle Fanning is certainly attractive, she doesn’t blow you away with her beauty. But then, maybe that’s the point. In a world were nearly everything is fake and over the top, normalcy intrigue’s It just doesn’t quite work.

Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, Broad Green Pictures’ 1080p presentation looks great. The red, blue and violet hues that are used throughout there is no color bleeding to speak of and the image looks absolutely flawless.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a solid one, delivering clarity to music, sound effects and dialogue. The bass from Cliff Martinez’ pulsating score comes through nice and evenly. Voices are always stable and never drowned out by music or effects. Everything is well balance. My only complaint? The center speaker wasn’t brought into the festivities as much as it could have been.

English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Nicolas Winding Refn and Actress Elle Fanning: Refn and Fanning offer a feature length, scene specific commentary. The two discuss everything from auditions, the filming, the script, logistical issues and more. Fans of the film will find this interesting.
  • Behind the Soundtrack ofNeon Demon (HD, 5:09) Together and separately, Refn and Cliff Martinez discuss the feel, beats and purpose of the music.
  • About Neon Demon (HD, 1:11) Essentially an extended trailer featuring interviews with Refn and Fanning and Keanu Reeves during a press junket.

Neon Demon (2016)
3.4 Reviewer