Nicolas Winding Refn’s visually hypnotic The Neon Demon is easily one of the year’s most polarizing films. A dark psychological horror that oozes style in every frame, the film’s observation of our societal obsession with female beauty left some viewers cold. Make no mistake though, The Neon Demon is a gem of a film that deserves to be revisited multiple times to truly appreciate the level of craft on display. Released on Blu-ray and DVD this week, courtesy of D Films, fans and detractors a like can now analyze this stunning film to their heart’s content.
Set within the world of fashion, the film follows 16-year-old orphan Jesse (Elle Fanning) as she as moves to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming a model. Unaware of the spell she seems to cast on others, or at least that is what the audience is led to believe at first, Jesse is simply happy to see her career moving in the right direction so quickly. Auditioning for the top photographer and fashion designer in the business, exploring a budding relationship with Dean (Karl Glusman), and becoming friends with a local esthetician named Ruby (Jena Malone), things could not be better for Jesse. Despite her good fortune, not everyone is happy for Jesse’s success. Fellow models Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee) are not only perturbed by the rookie’s rapid rise, but will do everything in their power to ensure that her blossoming career does not impact theirs in the process.
Using the shallowness of the modeling world as a springboard into themes of beauty, jealousy, and objectification, Refn is not afraid to place the brunt of his commentary on the male gender. The audience cannot help but feel a little uneasy whenever Jesse is left alone with men like her lecherous landlord Hank (Keanu Reeves) or photographers such as Jack (Desmond Harrington). She rarely encounters a man who does not gaze upon her with eyes that carry a mixture of awe and dangerous lust. It is their judgmental tendencies and relentless need to break women down to comparable objects that ultimately lead to the jealousy and self-destruction amongst the female characters.
Blending high art with horror, cinematographer Natasha Braier’s mesmerizing and eerie visuals are the true star of the film, The Neon Demon is constantly riveting. The Blu-ray offers a few special features including the delightful audio commentary with Nicolas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning which provides plenty of insight into the thought process behind many of the film’s chilling moments. A wonderful mix of style and substance, and Refn’s best work in years, The Neon Demon is a film one does not easily forget.
Special Features include:
• Audio Commentary with Director Nicolas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning
• Behind the Soundtrack of The Neon Demon
• About The Neon Demon