The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon | In-Depth Review


the-neon-demon-poster

    Grade: 6.92 / B

 

Directed by: 
Nicolas Winding Refn

Story by: Nicolas Winding Refn

Written by:
 Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws and Polly Stenham


Starring:
Elle Fanning as Jesse
Karl Glusman as Dean
Jena Malone as Ruby
Bella Heathcote as Gigi
Abbey Lee as Sarah
Desmond Harrington as Jack
Christina Hendricks as Roberta Hoffman
Keanu Reeves as Hank
Alessandro Nivola as Sarno [UC]

Genre:
Psychological Horror | Melodrama | Thriller

MPAA Rating:
Rated [R] for disturbing violent content, bloody images, graphic nudity, a scene of aberrant sexuality, and language.

Year: 2016

Country: France | Denmark | United States

In-Film Language: English

Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Budget: $7,000,000 (rough estimate)

Studios | Production: Amazon Studios, Gaumont, Wild Bunch, Bold Films, Space Rocket Nation, Vendian Entertainment.

The Neon Demon (Trailer)

The Neon Demon:
A one night stand

By  J.R. Stayer

Oct. 18, 2016

Nicolas Winding Refn’s (NWR) latest film, “The Neon Demon,” which managed to divide the audience at the Cannes Film Festival has also been met with split reviews from both film critics and amateur reviewers across the internet. It would seem the divisiveness is in regards to the film’s shallow script and glued together narrative.

“The Neon Demon” begins as an eerily campy melodrama. We find our 16-year-old aspiring model protagonist, Jesse, is new to Los Angeles. She comes to find beauty isn’t everything… it’s the only thing. She is discovered online by amateur photographer, Dean, who snaps her desired headshots. It is at this shoot she meets and befriends a lesbian makeup artist named Ruby, who then introduces Jesse to her model friends, Gigi and Sarah, at a party. Later, Jesse takes her thin portfolio to an agent who in turn launches her career. Jesse makes an astonishing debut, attracting industry elites, and begins a fast ascent to supermodel. Unfortunately, she also captures Ruby, Gigi and Sarah’s attention — who will do anything to acquire her preternatural ‘inner’ beauty. Then, 50 minutes through the film, it takes a sudden left turn, changing genres to horror. It really does feel as though you are watching the beginning of one film and the end of another, however, the problem for both halves is the writing.

After having been asked about the mixed reaction at Cannes in an interview by The Guardian, NWR said, “I fucking love it man, that’s why we’re here… We were like the search and destroy mission at Cannes.” Refn then goes on to call ‘quality control’ a thing of the past.

As an independent filmmaker this isn’t Refn’s first foray on quality control. Thus, he’s also not new to having his films criticized. One of his biggest film blunders was “Only God Forgives” (2013). In a film review, Peter Debruge of Variety writes:

“The wallpaper emotes more than Ryan Gosling does in ‘Only God Forgives,’ an exercise in supreme style and minimal substance from ‘Drive’ director Nicolas Winding Refn…. As hyper-aggressive revenge fantasies go, it’s curious to see one so devoid of feeling, a veniality even ‘Drive’ fans likely won’t be inclined to forgive.”

It’s not a real surprise “Only God Forgives” is a horribly written movie, namely because Refn was the sole writer. “Drive,” which was met with critical acclaim, was not written by Refn. Instead, it had been written by Hossein Amini — with crime/thriller author James Sallis providing the literary scaffolding. Even Gosling had a hand at cutting the dialogue. With “The Neon Demon,” Refn enlisted help from two co-writers, Mary Laws and Polly Stenham. This has allowed the film some consistency and with a narrative heavily focused on female characters (a change for Refn), it only made sense to elicit female perspectives. Nevertheless, “The Neon Demon” is still lacking. As Sandy Schaefer of Screen Rant writes in his review:

“‘The Neon Demon’ is a stylishly surreal, but hollow, horror/thriller – and another Nicolas Winding Refn film bound to divide audiences. Where some will find deeper layers of meaning and symbolism in its narrative, others will feel ‘Neon Demon’ has little on its mind beyond what is obvious on the surface. With respect to Refn’s recent work, ‘Neon Demon’ is (arguably) a more cohesive arthouse filmmaking exercise than ‘Only God Forgives.’”

Much like “Only God Forgives,” it’s evident that writing remains Refn’s Achilles heel in the “The Neon Demon.” This is evident from the action blocks to its dialogue and in all honesty the blank spaces on Refn’s Final Draft document. And yes, I skimmed through the Refn and Laws script from 2014 — and there were some things they should have kept and rightfully discarded.

But still, every level of the film suffers because of the writing. For instance, “The Neon Demon’s” characters break the flow of the film with lack of characterization beyond their names and their incredibly baseline desires. These characters are surface (flat), have no backstory and their motivations (especially that of the male characters) do not form a cohesive whole. Thus, breaking up the narrative and causing me to shake my head and say, “really?” at multiple points throughout the film. Now, I understand that Refn wants the viewer to see these characters as incredibly beautiful and equally damaged, but they are broken in function as much as form.

[Spoilers]

Examples of Broken Character:
Jesse: Refn employs the dead parents trope, killing off Jesse’s backstory and the character’s overall believability. She is a 16-year-old girl with dead parents, with otherwise no known family members, has seemingly eluded the Foster care system and yet, has the money to both travel and live independently through ‘pure’ means in LA, because she thinks herself to be pretty. She gets a deal online with an amateur photographer (Dean), takes her photographs to a modeling agency and by means of ‘it factor’ alone is propelled to stardom. At the beginning of the film Jesse, who is viewed as a symbol of purity (virgin), dates Dean, a man in his mid-20s. Additionally, Elle Fanning’s reliability as the protagonist simply wasn’t there and her character was not fully realized — making the character of Jesse incredibly unsympathetic and given the circumstances she faced at the film’s close, her character simply didn’t work.

Dean: Is an amateur photographer who finds Jesse online and shoots her photographs. He too has no known backstory and has somehow made money even though his photographs are viewed as amateur within the industry (note: production value of independent photoshoot and late 70s Trans Am). He dates Jesse and although it’s alluded that they haven’t had sex, she is still a minor and he barely cares. He’s also incredibly naive and easily offended for a man living in a large city. His character is taken advantage of first by the character of Hank in a scene where Dean is not only defensive, but oddly offensive — Dean vocally pushes back at Hank yet rolls over every time he makes a comeback — then by Jesse, who keeps him around for what seems like absolutely no reason whatsoever, but he stays until she breaks up with him.

Ruby: Is the makeup artist Jesse meets at Dean’s photoshoot in the film’s introduction. She is an otherwise elite makeup artist and mortician, who has somehow found the time to work with an amateur photographer. It also makes no sense that she would be the makeup artist for both Dean and Jack’s shoots. Her sexual motivation for Jesse is offset by her later motivation of literally eating her — it can almost be viewed that her attack on Jesse was set off solely by Jesse’s refusal of her sexual advance, at least in terms of how it’s established within the narrative. Some of her other actions break continuity, an example can be seen at both the party and diner, two instances where Ruby attempts to elicit resentment from her friends, Gigi and Sarah. Yet, bracketing these instances is her otherwise sexual enamorment with Jesse. Understanding her character is supposed to be predatory, it still makes no sense to have two desires fall so out of line with one another. If you like something, why would you conspire against it — the desires are incongruent.

The dialogue, oh the dialogue of “The Neon Demon” has “gotta be seen” to be believed. I’m glad it’s so sparse, because what made the final cut is more grotesque than the film’s scene of necrophilia. What comes out of these characters’ mouths is not only asinine but terribly dull and at times too Shakespearian for a movie this campy. Another aspect of the terrible dialogue is how long it takes a line to exit the characters’ mouths.

It felt as though the actors came to set and had the dialogue force-fed to them, only to be drooled out at action. It would also appear Refn didn’t change the character dialogue, even after what left the actors’ mouths felt unnatural. Understanding that the characters are supposed to have some exaggerated qualities, the hyperbole doesn’t negate the bad acting.

For example: In the scene where Dean and Hank argue about the money Jesse owes — Keanu Reeves spits out his dialogue as though he’s mocking his own voice and both Karl Glusman and Reeves’ body language in the scene makes the exchange feel entirely disconnected from the rest of the film. Another example is in the diner scene where Ruby, Gigi and Sarah are talking about Jesse’s fast ascension (which was not in the 2014 script). Ruby tells Gigi and Sarah (Abbey Lee) that Jesse is working with the elite photographer Jack — Sarah, after an unnecessarily long pause says, “What?” It was as though Abbey Lee had painfully forgotten her line, which had been ‘what’ all-along.

Examples of dialogue:
Jesse: “I don’t want to be like them. They want to be like me.”
Hank: “Are you high?”

Sarah: “What does it feel like? To walk into a room, and it’s like in the middle of winter, you’re the sun.”
Dean: “What are you?”
Sarno: “True beauty is the highest currency we have.”
Ruby: “She has that… thing.”
Sarno: “(Jesse)… is a diamond in a sea of glass.”
Gigi: “Anything worth having hurts a little.”
Sarah: After what felt like a thirty second pause, “What?”

Jesse: “Do you know what my mother used to call me? Dangerous.”
Sarah: “Who wants sour milk when you can get fresh meat?”
Jesse: Right before she is attacked — “Are we having a party or something?”

Chronologically, the film has a few issues within the narrative. One example can be found at the fashion show, where Gigi is baffled that Jesse is in the show with her. We learn that since Jesse’s last encounter with Gigi, she has had more plastic surgery. However, not enough time would have elapsed on screen for her to heal and be ready for a fashion the show.

The film’s narrative pacing is extremely off. Again, we have the sudden genre change from melodrama to horror — two halves that don’t make a whole. Furthermore, Jesse’s turn from the innocent deer-in-headlights to cocky modeling bitch is abrupt and takes place an hour and ten minutes into the film. Nothing in this film is gradual.

In terms of the film’s content, it fails to meet all of its marks on gender, sexuality and beauty as a form of social critique. Refn wanted to create a new class of male character — he paints them as the girlfriends in male dominated movies — taking them out as soon as they have served their purpose. However, I would chock that up to terrible screenwriting. The male characters are more than a basic plot device in “The Neon Demon,” they’re supposed to elicit something from the female characters, but fail to do so. They remain background even though they are depicted front and center, providing some road in the narrative. They’re also all dissimilar, making them unique, yet, Refn still finds a way to keep them lacking in development and motivation. He should’ve used the male characters to either further or underscore his female characters’ inner monsters.

When it comes to sexuality, it’s incredibly misplaced and serves minimal function outside of what comes out in the modeling. What exits Hank’s mouth is supposed to make him a sexual predator, specifically a pedophile — though with no real cemented action (preferably alluded to) he remains all talk, as we don’t know if Hank’s character killed the runaway at the motel (we need an action indicator). As for Ruby, she is a lesbian character that only seems to desire Jesse (or just her beauty as a youth) and when she can’t have her, she turns to desecrating a corpse whilst thinking about her. This is a jump due to the lack of evidence that Ruby, Gigi and Sarah are in fact actual monsters. Somehow Refn managed to mute human sexuality in a film about beauty with modeling as the backdrop, only providing a few instances of sexual deviance or violence elevated by sexuality, appealing to shock factor alone.

When looking at beauty as part of a social critique, Refn hits some of the marks. Watching the film, the audience understands well enough that Jesse is to be perceived as beautiful, that she knows this and others wish to have her natural gift. However, Jesse as a vessel for beauty — her only containing it until it’s spilled out — is not believable as her ending comes far too abruptly. Additionally, Jesse wasn’t fully fleshed out prior to her flesh being eaten. We’re given very few instances of someone being told they’re pretty, believing it, subsequently being consumed by it and, by a force completely unknown to her throughout the entirety of the film, is then literally consumed by it.

If Refn took the time to explore beauty beyond what’s just skin deep in his writing, he would’ve allowed his directing more space to explore this topic on screen. For now, it remains a fruitless attempt at a critique that’s not entirely needed in an age where the Kardashians’ candle is slowly burning out.

In terms of the film’s genre and genre in relation to setting, I surely cannot be the only one who thinks a movie about beauty both works well in a Hollywood setting and becomes incredibly trite when a flashing camera is used to depict it. Refn’s attempt at blending melodrama and horror would have been better if he actually coalesced the two genres at an earlier point in the film, otherwise it remains fractional. However, I applaud the attempt he made in making a horror movie about beauty in the film’s closing half.

The film’s style is very much reflective of Refn as a director, being that he works closely at all levels of production. He has a love for the two typically gender specific colors of blue and red and all the shades in-between (not letting his colorblindness stop him). In terms of Mise-en-scène, Refn’s films are not subtle, sometimes the composition tends to look like someone had a stroke with temperature, tint and contrast sliders, other times it looks like a surgically crafted shot. A thing to love about NWR is that he knows how images work and makes damn sure to have every detail in a shot perfectly secured.

The strongest part of “The Neon Demon” is the score. Cliff Martinez worked with Refn in the past on both “Drive” and “Only God Forgives” and has created 23 tracks with more personality than all the characters of Refn’s past two films combined. The murmur of synthesizers gets under your skin and pulses through your veins, working with Refn’s imagery to produce an acid trip of ambiance.


Bottom Line:
Refn has been vocal about his disdain for quality control, he believes that creativity should be an experience worth the time he steals away from his viewers and that the experience itself should be reactionary. However, I feel as though Refn positioned himself ahead of the split and the otherwise negative reaction to his film. 

He sought to shock audiences, though his film was not very shocking. Unless I was supposed to be awed by the terrible writing and a director that, from every article and interview I got my hands on, has yet to decide on what it is he actually made, ‘cause I don’t think he does.

The film itself, much like Refn’s take on beauty, is entirely too contoured.
It relies on sensory elements — pleasing your eyes and ears, but otherwise not engaging you cerebrally. In layman’s terms, “The Neon Demon” is a hot date that shares a similar taste in music, however, upon a second date you realize the person has nothing else to offer.

That being said, I really do enjoy watching Nicolas Winding Refn’s films. His outré directing style allows for beautifully stunning, often mesmerizing and terrifically primal cinematic experiences. He’s trying to give audiences something vastly divergent from what Hollywood has to offer. However, the problem in seeking cult status is that in trying to be different you often become consumed (no pun intended) by yourself. Refn needs to decide whether his logo (Yves Saint Refn – NWR) is more important than the final cut. He found his style and surrounded himself with actors he wants to continue collaborations with. Now, Refn needs to find a writer who understands his vision and can offer his design an enduring nature, and I’d be more than happy to work with you, NWR.

(WRI):  03.00  / 10.00

(DIR³): 08.25 / 10.00
(CPD):  08.25 / 10.00 
(ACT):  05.00 / 10.00
(SEM): 09.00 / 10.00 
(FED):  08.00 / 10.00
41.50 / 60.00 (.6916)


Grade: 6.92 / B


Being that this is my first film review on Indie Film Beat, I wanted to make sure both my rating scale (grading rubric) and review criteria were squared away before I had begun crafting the review. The order of my reviews in the categories of Contemporary Films, Classic Films and Short Films will always be in the order of: Writing (WRI), Director/ Directing/ Direction (DIR³), Cinematography and Production Design (CPD), Acting (ACT), Sound Editing and Mixing (SEM) and lastly, Film Editing (FED). This is, for me, in order of most to least importance. To fully understand the process, go to the ‘Film Class’ section of IFB. There you will find a roughly 3,500 word description of my review criteria.

Film Synopsis: [Spoilers]
Nicolas Winding Refn’s “The Neon Demon” stars Elle Fanning as Jesse, a sixteen-year-old girl with absolutely no backstory (the dead parent trope) who has come to Los Angles seeking a career as a model. She is found online by an amateur photographer named Dean (Karl Glusman), who photographs her covered in fake blood (the dead model trope – Corpse Chic). The shoot acts as practice for Dean and a way for Jesse to get her desired headshots. After the shoot Jesse meets Ruby (Jena Malone), a makeup artist, who offers her help because Jesse is new in town and living in a seedy motel. Ruby also offers friendship and to take Jesse to a party.

the-neon-demon-ellie-fanning-in-chair
It is at the party that our protagonist meets Ruby’s friends, two blonde vixens, Sarah (Abbey Lee) and Gigi (Bella Heathcote), both of whom are immediately hostile to Jesse due to her natural beauty. Gigi, who recently underwent plastic surgery and likens it to “good grooming,” begins comparing her looks against Jesse’s. Sarah on the other hand asserts Jesse must be sleeping her way to the top, as the only thing that matters in L.A., is “who you’re having sex with” — this scene is followed by an avant-garde nude dance routine.

The following day, Jesse brings her photoshoot spread to an interview at a modeling agency. The interviewing agent, Roberta (Christina Hendricks), is so taken aback by her beauty that she insists Jesse lie about her age (19, as 18 years of age is too on the nose), forges a parental consent form, drops two clients on the spot and then gets her a test shoot with an acclaimed photographer. Jesse celebrates her contract with Dean at an overlook in the Hollywood Hills. Jesse says that she is talentless as she cannot sing, dance or write, but that she can sell her looks. This is where Dean finds out about her age (as he must not have used a release form during their photoshoot), but decides to stay with her anyway. Then Dean drops her off at the seedy motel. When Jesse arrives back at the motel she’s greeted by a shadowy intruder and proceeds to get the motel manager, Hank (Keanu Reeves), to help her. Back at her room it’s revealed the intruder is a cougar. Hank demands remuneration for the damages, because it was Jesse that left her sliding glass door open. We cut to the test shoot that Roberta had promised.

The photographer, Jack (Desmond Harrington), is viewed as one of the best, an auteur. When Jesse leaves makeup with Ruby, Jack looks Jesse up and down, seemingly enamored by her. Jack exercises his creative control over the shoot, insisting it be a closed set — a one on one. He then tells Jesse to take off her clothes and proceeds to sensually rub metallic gold body paint on her. The shoot goes very well. Outside, Ruby is waiting for her. She tells Jesse to be cautious around men like Jack and puts her number in Jesse’s phone, as “it’s good to have good girls around.”

the-neon-demon-jesse-and-gold-neon

Ruby then meets up with Gigi and Sarah at a diner. She tells them that Jesse was at the shoot with Jack. Gigi almost forgets who Jesse is, and both are annoyed that she’s climbing the ladder so quickly. Ruby pushes, saying “Apparently, they think she’s gonna be this giant star.” Gigi seems unabashed, but attention is called to their time almost being up when Sarah says to Gigi, “…your expiration date is almost due. Who wants sour milk when you can get fresh meat?” Ruby continues trying to get the girls to further detest Jesse with, “You have to admit, there is special about her. She has that… thing.”

the-neon-demon-casting-call

The next day Jesse is at a casting call for an unnamed fashion designer (Alessandro Nivola [uncredited]). The room is filled with models, including Sarah, who has been eyeing Jesse since the scene opens. The models are here to show off their runway walk to the fashion designer, who is entirely indifferent to all but one of the models, Jesse. He looks up at her and is immediately caught up in her charm. He asks, “Where’s your card?” We are reminded that Jesse is new in town — again, invoking a sense of her quick climb. She is asked her age and lies. As she walks, the unnamed fashion designer gasps and then hires her.

Sarah is devastated and has a nervous breakdown in a bathroom, shattering a mirror. Jesse enters and tells Sarah, “I thought you did great.” Sarah protests, telling Jesse not to pretend she doesn’t know exactly what she is and asks, “What does it feel like? To walk into a room, and it’s like in the middle of winter, you’re the sun.” Jesse says, “It’s everything.” Sarah then moves toward Jesse, causing her to cut her hand on a shard of glass — Sarah then begins to suck the blood out of Jesse’s hand, causing her to run away.

the-neon-demon-blood-thirst

We cut to a mortuary to find Ruby is either a mortician or a mortician’s assistant — as she’s putting makeup on a dead womenWe cut again — this time to Jesse who’s back at the motel trying to evade Hank and her repair payment. Jesse cleans her wound and then receives a knock on her door from Dean who hands her flowers. She grabs them as she passes out and we enter a dream sequence. Jesse wakes to find Dean at her bedside and they embrace. Dean then speaks with Hank about the money Jesse owes him for the damaged door. Dean clams it’s unfair to make her pay for the damages but caves, paying $140 in cash to Hank himself — who in turn insults Dean, insisting Jesse isn’t worth if she isn’t having sex with him. Hank then offers Dean a thirteen-year-old runaway girl, “Room 214 – Gotta be seen.” Dean is grossed out. Later on that night, we see Dean pulling a glass shard out of Jesse’s palm.

the-neon-demon-mirror

We cut to a fashion show dressing room. Gigi is here and baffled that Jesse is in this particular show with her, she then tells Jesse she’s sitting in her chair. We learn the show is a designer named Sarno’s collection — Sarno is the previously unnamed fashion designer. Gigi makes the accusation, “you must be fucking him (Sarno).” We learn that since Jesse’s last encounter with Gigi, she has had more plastic surgery, claiming “Anything worth having hurts a little” and that “nobody likes the way they look” — to which Jesse says, “I do” and Gigi scoffs.

In the next scene, Jesse is told by Sarno that she will be closing the show, a very desired position. After she is fitted for her dress and ready to enter the runway, Gigi looks at her scornfully and Jesse closes her eyes as we enter another dream sequence showing her kissing mirror images of herself from within a blue triangle — a hasty telling of Narcissus myth. We don’t get to see the fashion show.

the-neon-demon-fashion-show

Later on, Jesse takes Dean to what appears to be a private dinner with Sarno, Gigi and a few other models. Sarno recites a few of King Henry’s lines from Hamlet: “Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height. On, on…” He then speaks negatively of manufactured beauty, Gigi asserts you can’t always tell when someone’s had plastic surgery. So, Sarno enlists Dean to settle the debate, asking him whether or not he thinks Gigi is beautiful. Dean says, “she’s fine.” Sarno then unabashedly berates Gigi in front of everyone and by contrast says Jesse is a “diamond in a sea of glass.” Dean believes him to be wrong, as he considers beauty to be on the inside. Sarno thinks that if Jesse wasn’t beautiful, Dean would have never stopped to look. Frustrated, Dean leaves and Jesse stays behind. Jesse comes back to the motel to find Dean waiting for her. Dean asks if Jesse wants to be like them, Jesse replies, “They wanna be me” and dumps Dean.

Later that same night, Jesse dreams that Hank enters her room, pulls out a knife and slides it into her mouth and down her throat while asking her to open wider. She wakes on the floor to her doorknob violently turning. She gets up quick enough to lock the deadbolt. The man moves onto room 214 and rapes the thirteen-year-old runaway. Jesse calls Ruby, who in turn invites her to stay at a mansion she’s house-sitting — it can e assumed the house belongs to one of the corpses she did makeup for at the mortuary. Ruby comforts Jesse and gives her a clean nightgown to wear. Ruby then begins to brush Jesse’s hair, telling her to relax before forcing herself on her. Jesse tells her that she’s both straight and a virgin. However, Ruby tries again anyway, resulting in Jesse pushing her off the bed. Ruby draws a picture on a mirror in lipstick. The following morning, we see Jesse moving through the now empty mansion.

the-neon-demon-necro

We cut to Ruby at the mortuary who is now putting lipstick on a female cadaver. She locks the door and begins to touch the body. She imagines Jesse as the corpse and commits necrophilia — both dragging her mouth across the dead woman’s face and masturbating atop her. At the mansion, we see Jesse applying bright makeup and putting on a dress — offscreen we hear what appears to be Ruby orgasming.

the-neon-demon-jesse-pool

When Ruby makes her return to the mansion it’s night and Jesse is standing at the edge of a diving board above an empty swimming pool. Ruby asks what Jesse is doing and Jesse asks, “Do you know what my mother used to call me? Dangerous.” Jesse says her mother was right, that she knows what she looks like and women would kill to look like this. She begins listing ways they might go about getting a body and face like hers. Ruby just smiles and listens. Jesse leaves Ruby outside and goes back into the mansion to find Gigi and Sarah. Jesse asks, “Are we having a party or something?” She is then attacked by them, chased throughout the house and back outside to Ruby — who pushes her into the pool.Jesse is on her back at the bottom of the pool. It is a graphic scene as she’s going into shock from a cracked skull. Jesse, slowly dying, turns toward the shallow end of the pool to see Ruby, Gigi and Sarah approaching. We cut to Ruby lying in a bathtub covered in Jesse’s blood. Gigi and Sarah are showering together, washing the blood off while Ruby watches.

the-neon-demon-ruby
The next morning we see Ruby watering the mansion’s plants topless (she’s also covered in tattoos), she stops at the pool where she pushed Jesse and begins cleaning the blood. We then see her smoking a cigarette on her stomach in Jesse’s freshly dug grave — which is still about a foot from being entirely level with the earth. We cut to night and Ruby standing before a large window nude with a full moon present. She lays on her back with her knees up in a sort of birthing position — it’s dark, but what appears to be blood flows out from her vagina.

the-neon-demon-ending

Roughly the same time Ruby is watering the plants, Sarah goes with Gigi to one of Jack’s photoshoots at a beach house. One of the models asks if another girl had ever screwed Sarah out of a modeling job. She says yes. The model then asks what Sarah did, to which she replies, “I ate her.” Gigi appears to be sick. Before the shoot, Jack abruptly fires the other model, as she’s not fitting into his vision and hires Sarah in her place. During the shoot Gigi begins to gag, looks into the pool and then walks off set. We see her groaning and retching. Sarah goes to Gigi and watches her as she falls to the floor and throws up a bit of blood and one of Jesse’s eyeballs. Gigi says, “I need to get her out of me” and stabs herself in the abdomen with a pair of scissors. Sarah watches her kill herself. Unperturbed, Sarah reaches down for the regurgitated eyeball, swallows it and then calmly returns to the set.

The film closes on a beach scene with what appears to be Sarah walking on the sand.


The first image is a poster for The Neon Demon, found on Amazon. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist of the film. © 2010-2016 Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

The Neon Demon © 2016 Space Rocket, Gaumont, Wild Bunch. All Rights Reserved.

§ 107 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
“Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright…”

The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 amended section 107 by adding the reference to section 106A. Pub. L. No. 101-650, 104 Stat. 5089, 5132. In 1992, section 107 was also amended to add the last sentence. Pub. L. No. 102-492, 106 Stat. 3145.


The author of this post, J.R. Stayer, receives absolutely no monies, as this page on WordPress (Automattic, Inc.) is a nonprofit. Indie Film Beat is truly an independent for independents. The usage of photos are to aid in the purposes of criticism and commentary. Writings are the intellectual property of the author – which are also subject to criticism and commentary.

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