If you’re after something to watch right before you go to bed, or a feel-good heart throb romance film, please close this tab. I unfortunately made the mistake of watching this film late at night after having a not so great day, thinking that seeing one of my favourite actresses Elle Fanning would include beautiful aesthetics, girl drama and lots of fashion inspirations. I was right about those but it also contained a lot of super grim and disturbing elements such as necrophilia, pedophilia and cannibalism as it plays with the idea of the fashion world and how haunting it can actually be.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn in 2016, Neon Demon follows the beautifully innocent aspiring model Jesse who just moved to Los Angeles for her modelling career. The whole film you could say is a symbolic allegory of the predatory and sex crazed fashion and modelling world with the use of dark colours, electric music, doll like models and predator animals in the background. The film opens with a lifeless looking Elle Fanning dressed in a Lolita styled outfit. Her baby doll features are an almost shocking contrast with the blood smeared around her and dripping to the floor. This melodramatic opening scene definitely sets the tone for the rest of the film. From there, we meet Ruby (Jena Malone) who is a makeup artist (for the living as well as the dead) and is immediately intrigued by Jesse’s beauty and innocent nature. She introduces her two model friends later on at a party, Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee).
One of my favourite lines from the film was when Ruby asked the girls what their ‘lipstick’ name would be as it always came down to being about ‘food’ or ‘sex’. And at the end of the film, that line is taken literally when Jesse turns down Ruby’s friendship after trying to seduce her to bed and is then attacked by the girls in an awful cannibal scene where they devour her, almost as if they could transfer her beauty and innocence to themselves.
There are a lot of slow still scenes throughout the movie, but Jesse’s transformation is super fast and almost hypnotising as she turns into a cold and confident model when she realises how much power she wields through her beauty, saying ‘I am not as helpless as I look’.
I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, although I should warn that it ends in a out of control bloody mess that involves deranged models, lots of blood and sexual violence. One thing I do like about the whole film is the whole aesthetics, the scenes and colours objects are always positioned so perfectly that if you pause at any second throughout the film, it looks as though it’s come straight out of a Vogue photo shoot. And of course, Elle’s acting is so amazing in that she doesn’t even have to move or say much but her expression and actions say it all.
I give this film an overall 7.5 out of 10 because of the acting and the aesthetics, but the whole storyline is too disturbing and just wayyyy too much for me.
Click HERE to watch the trailer.