With films, documentaries and articles about the risks and rewards of the fashion industry, especially for models, we should know by now of these things. But in The Neon Demon, a psychological horror film, we see another angle – that of cannibalism when eating your competition takes on a literal meaning.
Aspiring Fashion Model Story
Jesse (Elle Fanning) is a 16-year old aspiring model who has been told several times that, indeed, she’s a natural talent for the fashion world. She moves from her small town to the big town of Los Angeles, meets many interesting personalities, and makes her mark in the modelling world.
But this isn’t a story of success of a small-town girl becoming one of the world’s supermodels, far from it. Jesse transforms from a relatively shy person into a narcissistic person who actually believes that beauty is the only thing – to be more precise, her beauty is everything. She may have been struggled in transforming from a country girl with a natural beauty to a sophisticated woman of the world but when she does, she assumes it with a sense of entitlement.
And therein lies her downfall in the hands of jaded models who will do anything and everything to stay on top of the dog-eat-dog industry. Yes, even become practitioners of the occult, as her competitors did.
You have to see the movie in an AMC theater or Bow Tie Cinema to see what happens to Jesse. Without making spoilers here, let’s just say that the models may be pretty but Jesse’s fate is far from being pretty – cannibalism, after all, is petrifying for its victims, if you find yourself in such a situation.
Startling Beauty in a Few Scenes
But The Neon Demon isn’t blood and gore per se. You will find several scenes of surprising and striking beauty that makes Nicolas Winding Refn’s film watchable, even commendable. You may be entranced by the two runway sequences where the models strut amidst the backdrop of a futuristic nightclub, all inky background, mystical pyramids, and blood red strobes.
Fanning also has a knack for making her character look and feel human despite her descent into a chimera-like monster willing to burn bridges at every turn. Her transformation from a submissive girl to a self-made predator is believable, especially when she trains her eyes on the camera. Hers is a career that can be notable if she mines her acting talent well.
But The Neon Demon can also be polarizing film. You can either cheer it or boot it depending on your film preferences – and in either case, you may be justified in your reaction. Your reaction to a film, after all, will always be your own.