We went to a 9:30 showing of Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon at the Providence Place Mall. This was after waiting for some goth club to open up so my girlfriend could grab her license she’d forgotten there a few days before. By the time we got to the mall, it was about 8, and we inhaled food court “food” then made our way to the very top floor to grab our seats for a horror film about fashion that was sure to be wild. Both of us had already heard about all of the walk outs on the film due to some shocking scene or another. The Missus and I live for that shit.
It was one of those theaters all the way down right next to the fire exit, a place reserved for the films they know won’t even be coming close to filling to capacity. And sure enough, we had maybe four or five other patrons during our screening.
But that’s not why you good people are here. You want to hear about The Neon Demon, as you well should.
An incredible stylistic masterpiece, Refn’s latest film combines a high fashion plot set in L.A. with a tale of what women will do for beauty, fame, and the lengths they’ll go to maintain their positions in the industry. We follow a fresh-faced teenager, Jesse (Elle Fanning) as she’s introduced to the various players around town by makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone).
This whole flick I kept waiting for the scene when the walk outs might happen. Being frank, it could have been two scenes, but I’m probably not the guy to guess which. I’ve gotten serial killer Valentine’s Day cards: takes a lot to shock me. That said, this film is tense from start to finish, and that’s without any overt horror stuff. The fashion industry is a body shop, and seeing Jesse, a veritable lamb among the wolves is heartbreaking, and frightening. Seeing everyone size Jesse up like the fresh meat she is gives The Neon Demon a palpable dread which seeps into your pores before the real thrills even commence.
I don’t know fashion in the slightest, so I’m happy to report you can still enjoy the film with only the basest of knowledge about the industry. My partner who is into fashion assured me the film was chock full of actual faces from the industry, and had pretty spot on caricatures of a certain designer and photographer.
Surreal, beautiful, cruel, and poignant, The Neon Demon is like a kiss from a stranger, followed by a slap. Like finding a dollar, only to be mugged by a hobo immediately after. For fans of fashion, surreal films, horror, and of course, neon. My girlfriend had the most astute observation of the whole night, when she described the film as “ like one long, terrifying fragrance ad.”
A weirdo. An angry ghost. A red head. An asshat. A coffee-swilling son of a bitch who loves sarcasm and gallows humor.
Sean M. Thompson lives just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and seems to be positively obsessed with things that get him funny looks.