The Neon Demon is the visualization of our obsession with beauty and the lengths we will go to get it.



5 Reasons You Should Be Pumped To Watch Elle Fanning Get Gory

After realizing that he was “both surrounded and dominated by women,” Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn had the urge “to make a horror film about vicious beauty.” The film that he came up with is the deliciously dark The Neon Demon, featuring Elle Fanning, Abbey Lee Kershaw, and Bella Heathcote. Yes, there is an army of terrific female actresses, glitter, and blood (lots of it), but those aren’t the only reasons we’re hyped to watch this psychological thriller, which straddles the line between horror and fashion film.

Because Ladies Can Be Killers Too

Go and brush your shoulders off. Frustratingly enough, most Hollywood-produced thrillers and horror films are about male killers and helpless female victims. Yet this trope may shouldn’t have to be a necessity, and The Neon Demon is proof of that. The ladies are the stars of the show, and they’re anything but the damsels in distress. If anything, they’re the ones igniting the fires.

Glitter, blood, and vanity - all important elements of the film.
Glitter, blood, and vanity – all important elements of the film.

For Once, Dudes Are The Secondary Characters

Speaking of strong (if that’s what you want to call it) female roles in the film, the guys in The Neon Demon figure less than prominently. In fact, Refn said that movie’s male characters were “only there for plot devices. And once this film was done with all those characters, it had no need of men anymore. The male existence no longer functioned in the movie, and it became only about women.” Elle Fanning, who plays beautiful newcomer Jesse, calls the male characters “cut and dry” and the female characters “much more complex…you can’t describe them as easily as you can describe the men.”

Director Refn calls his film "beyond feminism."
Director Refn calls his film “beyond feminism.”

Its Depiction of Society’s Obsession with Beauty

Past neon colors, glitter, and cannibalism, the film, at its core, is about the obsession of beauty and how it is able to transfix, control, and even kill. It brings about natural versus “plastic” beauty, as well as the bitter envy that emerges from being compared. As Refn says, “I think my daughter’s generation and the generation of Elle Fanning are not really bound by the same taboos that I grew up under, of narcissism as a critique.” We live in front camera, dog filter, selfie era. It is easy to be narcissist and superficial with camera apps, but also equally as easy to be deceived by these tricks as well.

Elle is portrayed to be an ethereal, all-natural beauty.
Elle Fanning is portrayed as an ethereal, all-natural beauty.

Showing What Happens When Jealousy Eats At You 

You eat the source. We don’t want to give away spoilers, but there has been talk of cannibalism and gobbling up regurgitated eyeballs, giving the movie the gore it needs to be truly a part of the horror canon. Clare Foges of the Daily Mail asks that the British Board of Film Classification to not “roll over, as usual” when setting the age limit to watch The Neon Demon in United Kingdom. Foges calls the movie “as gruesome and gory as they come.” To each their own?

Abbey Lee Kershaw and Bella Heathcote as Gigi and Sarah, two seasoned models who are very, very envious of Jesse's natural beauty.
Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee Kershaw as Gigi and Sarah, two experienced models who are very, very envious of Jesse’s natural beauty.

The Dresses!!!

A story about the modeling industry is not complete without a killer wardrobe. Elle Fanning’s character, Jesse, goes from a reserved and naïve newcomer with sweet golden curls to an icy narcissist who is just as dangerous as her colleagues. She forgoes her long, loose-fitting cotton dresses for glittery golden gowns with a deep necklines (including a particularly stunning version from Giles Deacon), a testament to the character’s metamorphosis. And don’t forget, that there are parties on parties, with gowns on gowns. Refn wanted costume designer Erin Benach to “really push the envelope and set the stage for high fashion – not fake high fashion,” according to The Neon Demon‘s press kit.

No worries, she didn’t get blood on the Emporio Armani.

The Neon Demon hits theaters on Friday, June 24th.

Photos from The Neon Demon’s press kit and IndieWire.

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