The Neon Demon certainly starts off as a film that is right up my alley. Beautiful and stunning imagery, a good soundtrack, plenty of intrigue and mystery to keep me hooked. Until it fizzles out as an unbelievable empty and pretentious crapfest without remorse.
There is no pay off whatsoever even if I would be willing to go into the supposed symbolism and obvious protest against the fashion industry. Just conveying such a message is not enough. If possible you need to do it in a way that truly is thought provoking and interesting. I would have embraced the abstract approach if the film actually would have given me the opportunity to let my own fantasies and imaginations be applied to make everything more scary and confronting. As it turns out the film doesn't even come close to matching what my brain had created.
For a film that prides itself with being clever it is incredibly generic and lackluster. Sure I could not predict the ending but that does not mean it's one that is good or meaningful. Bizarre perhaps but shocking? Not really. Most of what the film presents as weird and confronting is pretty but boring. It's nothing more than rehashing certain horror themes and conventions put in a story that seems to function as some social activism. Except it fails to highlight the true horrors of the fashion industry and instead even helps to promote it's significance. All of the actors take the film seriously and it has to be said it does add to the film although none of the characters portrayed are compelling or interesting. Elle Fanning does a lot with her eyes and expressions. Only they are utterly useless and pointless for the events and plot. Still I could detect a sincerity and honesty from the actors in bringing out the best out of their performances only to be severely let down by director Nicolas Winding Refn as he is far too focused on style as opposed to substance. I am someone who can enjoy stylistic films like this as long as it provides that something I can be overjoyed about it. I really don't need much as I am very forgiving. There were many moments in the film they could have gone directions that would have been real fun. Still The Neon Demon fails to do even that. Nicolas Winding Refn can't be bothered to tell a story even if it is visually. And now I think about it Drive (2011) already was showing signs of this but that one had some redeeming factors that could make me overlook it's flaws. Here there is nothing redeeming or worth your while unless all you need is eye candy.
So no ladies and gentlemen, don't even bother with this film if you were hoping for something good or substantial. And certainly don't expect too much from Keanu Reeves since his role doesn't seem to be more than a glorified cameo.