THE NEON DEMON (2016) Reviews and overview

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‘The wicked die young’

The Neon Demon is a 2016 US/French/Danish horror thriller directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Drive, Only God Forgives) from a screenplay co-written with Mary Laws.

The film was produced by Space Rocket Nation’s Lene Borglum in association with Wild Bunch and Gaumont.


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In the US, the film is released on VOD on August 30 before hitting Blu-ray and DVD on September 27 via Broad Green Pictures. In the UK, Icon Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray and DVD on 31 October 2016.


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Main cast:

Elle Fanning (Maleficent), Jena Malone, Karl Glusman, Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road), Desmond Harrington (Dexter) Christina Hendricks (Drive) and Keanu Reeves (Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Knock Knock; The Devil’s Advocate, Matrix series).


When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has…



” … a movie which is fantastically preposterous and objectionable, but expertly varnished with a sheen of pure evil. It features the excellent Elle Fanning whose insouciant freshness is a reason to keep watching: a quality which oddly survives her inevitable journey to the dark side.” The Guardian

“When the film reaches its logical end point, Refn just keeps pushing, and eventually lands on a sequence so jaw-dropping – almost certainly a sly, glossy-magazine refashioning of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s groundbreaking surrealist short Un Chien Andalou – that all you can do is howl or cheer.” The Telegraph


“Nicolas Winding Refn has made a baroquely kinky gross-out surrealist horror film set in the L.A. fashion world. It’s not boring, but there’s less to it than meets the eyeball.” Variety

“Rather than accelerating the pace and tightening the tension, as is normally advisable in a story’s third act, Refn instead slows things down even further in a long stretch in which female jealousy and perverse acts of vengeance are explored to unsavory and extensive effect (there’s also a scene of lesbian necrophilia for good measure).”  The Hollywood Reporter


” … a buffet of sexualised horror similar to that offered by Lucio Fulci in films like The New York Ripper, with its intensely saturated colour washes and fabulous hairstyles. The effect is often fairly erotic, nodding to fetishes from the comparatively common to the decidedly outré…” Sight and Sound

“It is not a cheap knock-off attempting to look couture, it replicates high end fashion in minute detail, thanks to costume designer Erin Benach and Elliott Hostetter‘s production design. It’s the combination of the sound, imagery and design that keeps us mesmerized well more than the plot.” Collider

“Gorgeous, obvious, vapid, beautiful, a bit boring. You could say all those things about the fashion world, so perhaps it’s only right that a film which tries to recreate the essence of that world in a hyper-stylised way feels exactly the same…” Time Out London


“The throbbing, electronic soundtrack and pulsating lights create a trance-like state as if Jesse is a modern-day Alice in Wonderland. Unfortunately, the satirical elements come off as laughably shallow…” The List

” … another fascinating contribution from this iconoclastic filmmaker, a work that may well fall between audience expectations, too weird for the art crowd, not gory enough for the horror nerds … Silly, sly, sexy and sordid, The Neon Demon is a dark little burst of joy.” Screen Anarchy



The Neon Demon only works when Refn finds the right middle ground between obliquely hinting at and explicitly spelling out what his movie’s about. He constantly plumbs his id, and sometimes the results simply aren’t interesting. As a result, The Neon Demon is often productively brash, even if it is ultimately more preposterous than it is satisfying.”

Filming locations:

Los Angeles, California

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