Okay. So this one had a decent rating and was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. It had a big-name cast, if not a slightly odd one – Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, the guy who played Jack Bass on Gossip Girl, and the girl who played Joanna in the Hunger Games. It’s got a semi-interesting plot line – young pretty girl tries to make it as a model in L.A. but jealous bitches will do everything to get what she’s got.
I’ve seen movies that had much less going for them this year, but each and every one was better than the utter drivel that was the Neon Demon. I know, I know. The title alone should have tipped me off. But hell, I liked Drive, I liked Bronson, I (kinda) liked Only God Forgives; I thought Refn’s momentum and quasi-cult-following in recent years pretty much guaranteed a decent movie. Boy was I wrong.
This was hands down the worst thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. Honestly, I wanted to turn it off after the first few minutes, because the interminable, repetitive “music” in the opening scene was the most annoying movie score ever. But I soldiered on… and now I regret wasting two hours of my life watching this crap.
Now, there is one positive thing I have to say about this film: it’s visually stunning. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all it’s got going for it. Right from the first few lines of dialogue it’s blatantly obvious that not only every single performance is wooden to the nth degree, but also that the script wasn’t really doing the actors any favors. Elle Fanning’s sweet and innocent act is way over the top, and although very pretty, she just lacks her sister’s charisma. Hendricks is either really bad at her craft, or had to play the worst written role in the history of horror flicks, and that’s quite an accomplishment. Poor Keanu is now reduced to playing a nasty rundown Motel manager? Sigh. Knock Knock was a masterpiece compared to this.
Also, what the hell happened to
Jack Bass Desmond Harringdon? Why is he so emaciated? He looks like he’s aged about a decade in the years since GG and Dexter wrapped. And don’t get me started on Hunger Games Joanna’s creepy character or the two gorgeous models who honestly have nothing to envy in the first place, making the entire plot a moot point.
If you’re still curious, let me save you the 1 hour 58 minutes it would take you to get through this painfully bad movie: Jesse (Elle Fanning) signs on with a modeling agency, where she has to fake a parental consent form and is told to lie about her age (16) and tell people she’s 19. In an industry where the rule literally is ‘the younger, the better‘, that seems like an odd request, but I can live with that. What I take issue with is the incredibly stilted dialogue between agent Christina Hendricks and young Jesse, who is too shy to even look people in the eye, yet everyone she works with seem to agree that she possesses that je ne nais quoi that will make her a modeling sensation.
We see Jesse with new friend Dean, who’s obviously into her, in a largely useless scene discussing… nothing. We see her at a party with Ruby the make up artist and two other models, being intimidated in a bathroom scene while one of the models brags about the work she’s had done; we see her at a naked photoshoot with creepy photographer Jack; we see her back at the motel, where a very irate Keanu expects compensation because…. a cougar has trashed her room (!). We see her at casting calls and catwalks, being envied by the other models. We see all the attention get to her head, and dump Dean when he criticizes the fucked up fashion scene.
In a nutshell, we spend a good portion of the run time watching a “horror” movie where almost nothing happens and basically amounts to Refn’s self-congratulatory, almost masturbatory efforts to make this nonsense appear artistic and deep. And when we finally get to the action, it’s utterly disappointing: we get lesbian sexual aggression, murder and freaking cannibalism, vampires, suicide, and yet more cannibalism. The end.
Seriously, I can’t hate on this film enough. You know how everyone was pissed off when M. Night Shyamalan directed one awful movie after another following the success of 6th Sense? This one was worse than all of those combined. If I went to see this at a theater I’d totally demand my money back. And now I just want to punch each and every one of those idiots who thought this pretentious pile of crap was ‘artsy’ and gave this movie a good rating, especially those dipshits who included this movie in ‘must-see’ horror flick lists.
(to be fair, there are probably a lot of contenders for the ‘worst movie of the year’ award – and most of them less visually appealing and with lower production values. Still, you have to weigh the actual film against the expectations its director/cast create, so my vote goes to the Neon Demon)