Saturday, October 6, 2018

Halloween 2018 #7: The Neon Demon *** (2016)

As a stylistic exercise, The Neon Demon delivers a visual feast of imagery set to ultra modern pop music. The story follows aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning) in the seamy world of L.A. culture. NIcholas Winding Refn's direction is heavy on allusions, Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch come to mind, and Italian horror (a glaring blind spot for me). Each scene feels like the start of another movie, creating a dissonance that serves the film. It's just that the "story" rings a little too familiar and its deconstruction of L.A. movies gets strained, approaching, but never becoming, a full on parody. Keanu Reeves appears in a few scenes as a creepy landlord and Jena Malone plays Jesse's mysterious mentor who works at a mortuary. There's an infamous scene with Reno that will turn many off, throwing a bone to those think a multiplex movie can no longer be scandalous. For those willing to go on the journey, The Neon Demon is full of vivid moments and the occasional shock. Refn's preoccupation with beauty, decay, violence, and cruelty leave one feeling alienated and empty. An insular movie about an insular world that succeeds in looking cool,The Neon Demon's an underground comic book flick about a shipwrecked culture that's forsaken the very notion of identity.

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