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The Neon Demon (2016)

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An aspiring model, Jesse, is new to Los Angeles. However, her beauty and youth, which generate intense fascination and jealousy within the fashion industry, may prove themselves sinister.


Nicolas Winding Refn (story by), Nicolas Winding Refn (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »
682 ( 294)
18 wins & 36 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Elle Fanning ... Jesse
Karl Glusman ... Dean
Jena Malone ... Ruby
Bella Heathcote ... Gigi
Abbey Lee ... Sarah
Desmond Harrington ... Jack
Christina Hendricks ... Roberta Hoffmann
Keanu Reeves ... Hank
Charles Baker ... Mikey
Jamie Clayton ... Casting Director
Stacey Danger ... Casting Assistant
Rebecca Dayan ... Dresser
Helen Wilson Helen Wilson ... Seamstress
Houda Shretah Houda Shretah ... Roberto Sarno's Assistant
Taylor Hill ... Flirty Model #1


The sixteen year-old aspiring model Jesse arrives in Los Angeles expecting to be a successful model. The aspirant photographer Dean takes photos for her portfolio and dates her. Jesse befriends the lesbian makeup artist Ruby and then the envious models Gigi and Sarah in a party. Meanwhile, the agency considers Jesse beautiful with a "thing" that makes her different and she is sent to the professional photographer Jack. Jesse attracts the attention of the industry and experiences a successful beginning of her career. Ruby, Gigi and Sarah, however, will do whatever is necessary to get this "thing" for themselves. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Pure, Insane Delight! See more »


Horror | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent content, bloody images, graphic nudity, a scene of aberrant sexuality, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »


Denmark | France | USA | UK



Release Date:

24 June 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Neon Demon See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$589,014, 26 June 2016, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$1,333,124, 4 August 2016

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,333,124, 4 August 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The character of Ruby is based on Alejandro Jodorowsky. See more »


When the mountain lion in Jesi's room roars the sound used is the roar of an African Lion (or possibly a tiger) not that of a California Mountain Lion. See more »


Jesse: When I was a kid, I would sneak out to the roof at night; I thought the moon looked like a big round eye. And I would look up and I'd say, "Do you see me?". Ya know, I'd stay out there for hours. Sometimes I'd fall asleep, just dreaming.
Dean: About what?
Jesse: What I would be.
Dean: What was that?
Jesse: I could never figure it out.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The theatrical R-rated version and unrated version are different only in the second morgue scene as follows: (A) Female genital nudity is depicted 1 hour 29 minutes and 0 seconds into the film. In the R rated version (which played in US theaters), when Ruby was kissing the corpse (played by a female actress), the bottom of the frame showed the upper half of the vulva (inclusive of somewhat blurred labia, due to the camera focus on the kissing). In the "unrated" version (NOT the theatrical version or the director's narrative - which both emulate the R rated version seen in US theaters), that same moment depicts VERY clear labial exposure (as in medical clarity, yet artistically depicted). (B) Note that the unrated version also shows Ruby's hand brush along the genitalia as it sweeps up to the left breast (R rated version prolongs the cut-away to the Jessie fantasy shot), and also depicts Ruby bouncing on the corpse as she reaches orgasm (while the R rated version shows only the close up of her face). The foley work and soundtrack during the unrated morgue scene are subtly but noticeably different. In short, the unrated cut sounds a lot more "squishy" with ample "smacking" sounds. The uncut version appears to be available through iTunes only, despite being an Amazon production,which you can find here: https://itunes.apple.com/mt/movie/the-neon-demon/id1129719992 (That means if you want to watch it on a TV you'll need an AppleTV to play it). See more »


References Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) See more »


Performed by Sweet Tempest
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User Reviews

Defies all conventions. Flawed, yet stunning
3 July 2016 | by c-pi57See all my reviews

I can't lie, I initially rated The Neon Demon a 5/10. However, after seeing it opening day and being transfixed yet somewhat put-off the entire runtime, I couldn't get the film out of my head, and have now decided I absolutely love it.

Yes, the dialogue is a disaster, the performances are interesting at best (I was actually the most impressed by Abbey Lee and hope to see her play an out and out psycho soon), and all semblances of a conventional plot line are nonexistent, but the world and experience the movie gives the viewer is like nothing else. Films that would come close are 70s cult classics including Argento's infamous giallo Suspiria and the underrated Japanese horror/acid-fest Hausu, and I would be shocked if Winding Refn didn't at least take some inspiration from the former. I had thought films like that were all but lost in time, but The Neon Demon takes the technicolor-ed, fever dream slasher to a new level, even down to the haunting score. No one can deny it looks absolutely fantastic-- from the day-glo pinks and blues juxtaposed against black, the artful shots that looked like a cross between a Kubrick film and an underground rave, and the way LA was captured as almost a character in itself- a menacing, hollow one at that.

However, all this would be nothing more than an experimental, music video-esque piece of performance art if it wasn't for the thematic elements in which the movie draws from. And though it's hardly groundbreaking in touching on its deeper elements, the movie really does have a lot to say about conventional beauty standards and the levels with which we will go to achieve them. I found myself wishing I looked like the three female leads more than once during the movie, and while I'm sure this irony, if it can be called that, wasn't exactly intentional, it does make me think a lot about the way the modeling and film industries view beauty, and how rather than try to change society, we try and change ourselves. Both are easier said than done.

All in all, The Neon Demon was a visual feast with a deeper meaning. Many things are unexplained, but this just adds to the mystery. If you're up for in immersive, original experience that may leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable due to its content and the harsh reality of its themes, I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

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