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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 »
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 Marie Hill ... Flirty Model #1 (as Taylor Hill)


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


A Glittering, Etherised Nightmare! 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?


There were issues with casting the part of Dean. A lot of the actors auditioning tried to impersonate Ryan Gosling, and it was not until Gaspar Noé suggested Karl Glusman, that the producers found an actor that worked. Both previously worked on Love (2015), which was Glusman's film debut. See more »


Jesi says when asked that the blond color of her hair is natural. But it can been seen in several scenes that her hair are dyed. 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 »


References The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) See more »


Waving Goodbye
Performed by Sia
Produced & Engineered by Diplo & Djemba Djemba
Written by Sia
Recorded at Mad Decent Studios
Sia appears courtesy of Monkey Puzzle Records
Diplo appears courtesy of Mad Decent
See more »

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User Reviews

Refn is possessed by a demon that feasts on all that is trite and shiny
24 June 2016 | by redhotchilipieperSee all my reviews

As a viewer who has enjoyed a handful of Nicolas Winding Refn's works like Drive, Bronson, Valhalla Rising, and even Only God Forgives – which I defended wholeheartedly in a 2013 Amazon review – it pains me a little to kick off my review with the following statement: It is difficult to decide what I dislike most about Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon. Critics giving Demon positive reviews and arguing that its monomaniacal focus on style is intentionally on par with the film's message are missing the reality that NWR's creative juices are simply dried up at the moment.

So what is the least admirable trait of Refn's latest? Is it the paucity original thought? The onslaught of the routinely neon- drenched Kubrickian imagery? The fact that a good sixth of the movie feels like the director got away with making fetish porn with an Amazon Studios (and about a half dozen other production companies) budget? I'm not even going to start in on the film's literal blood baths, but I think that the lack of originality is probably the worst part.

Audiences have already seen everything that The Neon Demon has to offer. Cinematically speaking, there is nothing more than the usual slew of rehashed Kubrick frames (including a groan-worthy Shining shout out within the first few minutes). Aside from a memorable strobe- light inspired scene of a performance at a model- populated L.A. party, Refn adds nothing new to his aesthetic arsenal that he has not already splashed on the screen with his previous four films.

From a narrative standpoint, one should not expect a fully-formed, fleshed out story or characters. These are not Refn's preoccupations when making a movie, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. That is, if the film's style and themes can compensate. Stylistically (see paragraph above), it does not hold any substantial weight. Unfortunately, there is even more of a thematic drought.

At one point in the film, the increasingly narcissistic protagonist Jesse (Elle Fanning) says that other girls will cut, carve, inject, and do anything else to their own bodies just so that they can look like a second- rate version of her. The girl from the small town who seemed so nice starts becoming a bit conceited by her time in the fashion industry. Can you believe it? Imagine that! Wow, what is the director trying to say about fashion? Hollywood? The male gaze? SOCIETY?

If there is one thing that 2106 films like The Neon Demon and Zoolander 2 should be teaching would-be blockbuster directors and art-house auteurs alike, it is that the fashion industry has become one of the stalest targets for satire in any artistic medium or genre. It's not that superficiality doesn't deserve it, but at this point if a writer or a director has nothing original to say about it, then they should not be saying anything all.

To be fair, the trite and shiny cloud of unoriginality that is The Neon Demon does have its silver linings. I have never felt so badly for a film score than I do for Cliff Martinez's excellent work on this soundtrack. While the message of the movie will blend in with the mental smoothie of other Hollywood/superficiality parable flicks, I will not easily be able to excise Martinez's thumping synths from my ears. I will also never forget the intensity of Abbey Lee's stares.

There are also less silvery scenes involving Jena Malone taking the tired psycho lesbian trope to whole new level and an absurdly Nicolas Cage-esque Keanu Reeves as an acrimonious motel manager that I will not forget for other reasons (primarily the random shock-less "shock value" senselessness of them). I wish I could recommend The Neon Demon as a startlingly original work from a gifted auteur, but it feels like Refn simply isn't challenging himself or the audience in any meaningful way. Here's hoping that this kind of trite and shiny would-be shock fest will not be the only thing that Refn has to offer cinema in the future.

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