Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film The Neon Demon already has quite a lot of anticipation surrounding its release this weekend, and from what I’ve heard it’s for good reason – this is going to be one of the most ‘interesting’ films of the year.
Labelled a psychological horror (always one of the most intriguing genres for me), it’s about an aspiring model trying to survive the modelling scene in LA; she’s young and beautiful, making her a target for other models who grow jealous of her. I don’t know much more than that at this point, aside from what else is revealed in the trailer which, if you’ve seen it (I’ll put it below), tells you this film has some… weird qualities to it. In a good way.
There aren’t a lot of screenings available for it even during its opening weekend, which basically means it isn’t entirely mainstream, though the amount of marketing it’s been given tells you it does have a definite audience – just not the all-encompassing, easy-going audience that most big releases enjoy. If you want an easy-going movie experience, this probably won’t be for you.
Winding Refn’s previous feature, Only God Forgives (2013), was equally divisive, also balancing on the border between ‘cult’ and mainstream status. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend a viewing before going into this one, to get a feel for the tone of the director’s work – in particular The Neon Demon, with which I think Only God Forgives may share certain qualities.
Of course before Only God Forgives he directed Drive, starring Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver, winner of the Best Film Oscar in 2011 and an essential film to watch in any case. I’d also recommend seeking it out as soon as possible.
But perhaps the most appropriate comparison will be drawn with the lesser-known Starry Eyes (2014), a film I came across last year with which The Neon Demon appears to share thematic similarities.
Starry Eyes, also a horror movie, is about a young actress seeking to make it big as a film star; her ambition eventually leads her down a dark path with slightly gory consequences. Not one for the faint-hearted, but then again I don’t think The Neon Demon will be either. If you’re at all intrigued by the latter, I think you’ll be equally intrigued by Starry Eyes and would recommend seeing it too.
Have a nice weekend!