September 10, 2016

The Neon Demon (2016)

"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."

Imagine, if you will, "Zoolander" without the intentional comedy, or "Starry Eyes" without the horror. Got those fixed in your mind? Good. That's pretty much what "The Neon Demon" is, but it's not as good as either of them. In fact, it's just not good.

There are two major problems with "The Neon Demon" which render it absolutely worthless even for the Millennial dripsters who would normally gush over similar products. First, it's slower than molasses going uphill in January. Second, Elle Fanning has neither the looks, height, or demeanour to be a fashion model. The latter would make the whole movie unintentionally hilarious, but for the fact that it's also tedious as shit.

If this movie is really supposed to be a horror movie, Nicolas Winding Refn has no idea what a horror movie should be. Granted, it's a horrible movie, but there are no scares, no surprises, and not really much of anything of interest once you take out the mildly titillating lesbianism and necrophilia.

While boobs and blood used to be all that was needed for a movie to qualify for the genre, things have moved on a bit in the rest of the real world. Audiences now like subtle things such as a compelling story and decent characterisation too, neither of which you'll find here.

As "The Neon Demon" is contrived to be very Elle Fanning-centric, it's a pity that she doesn't have the "X Factor" or any screen presence whatsoever. As a girl-next-door type, I'm sure Elle has her devoted, horndog fans, but based on her performance in this movie, I'm not likely to ever be one of them. It's hard to tell if her acting is good, bad, or horrendous because every character in "The Neon Demon" is unlikable and seems to be affected by some kind of Asperger's Syndrome anyway.

Keanu Reeves stands out in his two minutes of screentime, but he's last-billed for good reason. In what can only be described as an extended cameo where he's still channelling John Wick, he's not much more than a miserable so-and-so, albeit with all the best lines. I would say more, but I've already written more words than his character has. If you're a big Keanu mark and want to see "The Neon Demon" purely because he's in it, be prepared to be disappointed.

If you're looking for a movie which satirises the fashion industry, you would obviously be better off with "Zoolander" or even the unfairly maligned "Zoolander 2" (which is almost as great as the first one). Sadly, "Showgirls" did all the seedy stuff better many years ago, and both "Eat" and "Starry Eyes" did the horror properly.

I was asked if I had seen this movie last night, and my reply was, "Seen it, hated it." That doesn't make for much of a critique, but it's all that really needs to be said when anyone mentions this pretentious arthouse crap in future. I wasn't even going waste my time reviewing it because, like most new movies, it's not worth the effort of sitting through in the first place, but I suppose I've done it now. "The Neon Demon" is complete and utter shit.

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