Widescreen nominates 'Neon Demon' as a new Halloween classic

  • Jesse (Elle Fanning) discovers the horrors of being a professional model in "The Neon Demon," a shocking, fearless film from "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn.

    Jesse (Elle Fanning) discovers the horrors of being a professional model in "The Neon Demon," a shocking, fearless film from "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn.

 
 
Posted10/27/2017 6:00 AM

Happy Halloween weekend! Last year in this space I nominated Guillermo Del Toro's gothic romance, "Crimson Peak," as a new haunted holiday classic. This year I stump for a decidedly different but no less horrific film.

Nicolas Winding Refn, the Danish director responsible for Ryan Gosling's "Drive," takes us on a terrifying, tantalizing trip into the world of fashion in "The Neon Demon," a divisive 2016 candidate for the Cannes Film Festival's top prize starring Elle Fanning as a fledgling model who makes enemies on her way to the top.

 

The less said about the plot, the better -- horrible surprises await you as 16-year-old Jesse contends with a pair of runway rivals (Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee), an amorous makeup artist (Jena Malone) and a seedy motel manager (Keanu Reeves in another one of his performances that toes the line of self-parody).

Refn and cinematographer Natasha Braier are the true stars of the film, creating strobing, glitter-spackled images that bring to mind Dario Argento and Stanley Kubrick. The electronic score by Cliff Martinez completes the audiovisual attack on the senses.

Those familiar with Refn's work, which also includes "Valhalla Rising" and "Only God Forgives," know that he is a fearless, bloodthirsty provocateur -- "The Neon Demon" lives up to that reputation and perhaps exceeds it. I'd recommend watching this with an empty stomach, an open mind, a very dark room and a very loud sound system.

"The Neon Demon" is available for streaming on Amazon Prime, and as a digital rental or purchase across most platforms.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor. His favorite horror movie is "Poltergeist." (Yes, the original one, come on!) Follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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