I took a trip to the cinema with my sister last night to see The Neon Demon, Nicholas Winding Refn’s latest offering, centred around the competitive modelling business in LA. To emphasise to the viewers just how cutthroat the industry really is, the film opens with a shot of the beautiful protagonist Jessie -Elle Fanning- reclining on a chaise lounge, covered in blood, with her throat slit (very clever imagery). The first two thirds are visually appealing, yet remain rather dull. There is little attention paid to any narrative or character development, and the impressive colour and light show, coupled with an powerful soundtrack, seem to act as a lengthy exercise in brainwashing one into thinking Elle Fanning is the most beautiful girl on the planet. Let me add that I don’t have a problem with that idea, it just isn’t interesting enough to hold my attention for however long we are forced to endure close up shots of her admiring herself in mirrors.
However my real (and perhaps slightly strange) frustration with this film stems from its latter third, housing a violent climax in which two beautiful, yet ruthless ‘ageing’ models and a makeup artist, push our pretty protagonist into an empty swimming pool before proceeding to eat her flesh and bathe in her blood. What a bloody twist! These women are cannibals! They literally eat this girl because she poses a threat to their careers! Why is this allocated such a short amount of screen time?! I am all for allusions to sinister plot elements, but these models- who don’t eat anything- literally ate a person and we are expected to leave the theatre feeling satisfied having parted with our hard earned cash. Thankfully there was a promotion on at the Odeon and we only paid £4 for our tickets, but still I remain unimpressed. I have sat through countless films about muscular werewolves and sparkling vampires and nerdy outcasts with superhuman strength, and I can’t even get one decent offering about models who consume the flesh of their competition. I suppose that cannibalism just isn’t as sexy as vampirism because at the heart of this issue, it is really, really, really weird. I also concede this wasn’t the point of the film, and it was attempting to articulate a wider comment on beauty or youth or whatever, blah blah blah. Despite this, The Neon Demon is one of the coolest premises for any film I have heard in a while, and I was really disappointed that more people weren’t eaten over the course of its two hour running time. I personally am volunteering to remake this film, and I now throw my hat into the ring. I give this movie a solid three stars, but if Hollywood gives me a chance I know I could take it to a four and a half, if not five star affair.