Movie Review – The Neon Demon

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The high-profile world of professional modeling is a risky business. Lost under the glitz, glamour and fashion are those yearning for the validation of a popular few. Though breaking into the business is easier said than done, maintaining relevancy is the name of the game. In a business where you’re considered “old” by 21 years old, newcomer Jessie (Elle Fanning) is naturally turning heads. Fresh off a sweet sixteen, Jessie has arrived in Los Angeles to become a model. After her first photo shoot, Jessie hangs out with new friend Ruby, a makeup artist (Jena Malone) and Ruby’s other model friends Sarah (Abbey Lee) and Gigi (Bella Heathcote). Wary of the new kid on the block, veterans Sarah and Gigi aren’t as welcoming. Adding to her struggles are Jessie’s living conditions. Renting a seedy motel in suburban Pasadena from a less than trustworthy guy, Jessie is in more danger than she realizes. 

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Billed as a psychological horror, The Neon Demon isn’t a spine tingling thriller in the vein of ‘Silence of the Lambs’ or as cringeworthy as ‘Misery’. It paints a rather bleak picture of the modeling scene, where wolves lurk in sheep’s clothing. However, without any likable characters, The Neon Demon feels like a failed cross breeding of ‘Showgirls’ and ‘The Shining’. One could make a case for the beautiful cinematography and pulsing soundtrack, as the few bright spots of a dreadfully tedious film to watch. 

For a film that takes itself so seriously, why doesn’t it spend enough time answering my first post screening question? What separates the models from the supermodels? Everyone is attractive, but Jessie is the “It” girl. Why? What does she have that drives models to such extremes to be a “Jessie”. The movie didn’t explain it (or I missed it), but luckily this question was addressed in a commercial some years ago. Once again Bruce Campbell saves the day. 

Verdict: F

Rated: R @ 110 (long) minutes

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