The Neon Demon (2016)

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I remember seeing previews for this over the summer…and I vividly remember how indifferent I felt towards it. What added to my confusion is the fact that this is the same man that gave us Bronson, which happens to be one of my all time favorite films. As the summer went on, no one talked about this movie. It was like it just vanished as quickly as it appeared in theaters. I said I wasn’t going to bother watching, but a recent opportunity allowed me to see it for free, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Thank the Lord I didn’t pay for this in any capacity (except my sanity). Normally I tear into the directors at the end of my reviews, but I’m going to start at the beginning. Nicolas Winding Refn recently had an interview that tells you everything you need to know about his most recent films, and what we get to expect from him in the future. According to Refn, he “brings the singular, the narcissistic, the high art“. If that doesn’t reek of pretentious douche-baggery, I don’t know what does.

Now that we know our director is the textbook definition of a tool, what about the actual movie? Would his creative talents outweigh his questionable personality? I think you know the answer to that. To his credit, this guy knows what looks incredible on film. The cinematography is absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen something so gorgeous. Couple that with a head pounding, synth-heavy soundtrack, and I have to admit that certain parts of this are very well made. Unfortunately, that’s literally all there is to this. It’s beautiful, but has zero substance, plot, or character development. Something tells me Refn would claim that’s what he was aiming for, but I call BS. The whole movie feels like a cheat shot at the modeling industry, and maybe even women in general. Actually…it doesn’t speak highly of men either. This movie doesn’t like anyone or itself, and it comes off as borderline Maudlin in how depressing it truly is.

I give it 2/5. The only thing that made me stick with it were the 30 minutes of pretty scenes I mentioned. The other hour and 30 minutes are spent wondering how the hell no one has gotten arrested for the assault of a minor. I must have really been distracted because I also forgot to point out: sapphic necrophilia, pedophilic rape and assault, murder of a minor, and cannibalism. All I learned is this: Filmmakers, if you want to highlight the horrors of one person, a group, or even a whole freaking country…just make a damn documentary. Stop hiding under genres such as “art house” because all you’re doing is using that as a way to go for shock and gore. You’re not being clever with visual metaphors. You’re being a narcissistic douche. I would recommend something else with great cinematography that has a plot, but my brain is a little fried after watching this mess.

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