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The Neon Demon © El antepenúltimo mohicano/YouTube
The Neon Demon © El antepenúltimo mohicano/YouTube
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The Neon Demon: Beauty, Blood And Horror

Picture of Kris DiNardi
Updated: 27 June 2016
One month after its debut at the Cannes International Film Festival, Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon begins to make its way across the U.S. before its release June 24, 2016.

If you’re in the Bay Area this week, you can check out the film just before it hits theaters at 7:30 p.m. on June 20 at the AMC Metreon 16.

AMC Metreon San Francisco | © torbakhopper/Flickr

The Neon Demon stars Elle Fanning as the naive 16-year-old Jesse, who moves to L.A. from a small town in Georgia. Although Jesse is a newcomer to the fashion industry, her allure and “it” factor allow her to quickly rise up the career ladder, drawing awe from fellow models. This attention leads to her beauty-obsessed colleagues wanting to do anything to taste her success.

Even before its nationwide release, The Neon Demon drew plenty of praise and contention by critics — from receiving ovations during its first screening and premiere, to booing during its press screening. The film also garners even more controversy from its depictions of cannibalism and its framing of Fanning.

The film’s success lies in its cinematography and suspense. Although the film might seem slow based upon its use of long takes in comparison to the Hollywood standard of rapid cuts, the suspense gathered in these builds overtime.

In short, the film’s cinematography is outstandingly beautiful. Each shot is carefully devised and assembled. Just from the trailer alone, the cinematography stuns the senses. Also, if you’re a fan of Elle Fanning, you won’t be disappointed as her beauty is literally showcased throughout the film in lengthy sequences and extreme close-ups.

The film does fall short in two categories: the depiction of horror and its dialogue. The Neon Demon is definitely not for the faint of heart due to its graphic themes. However, it doesn’t follow the standard horror format that most are accustomed to — don’t expect an insanely high body count. Although the horror component does not appear until after the film’s midpoint, each scene from then on slowly increases in violence and tension. The film is still full of suspense despite its overhyped horror.

Another problem with The Neon Demon is its lackluster dialogue. The film is sparse in dialogue and there are some moments where Fanning’s lines will make you cringe in your seat. Despite these criticisms, the film successfully opens a concerning social commentary about the balance between natural and artificial beauty. Leaving the theater, you’ll certainly have some food for thought.

“Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”