(director: Nicolas Winding Refn; screenwriters: story by Nicolas Winding Refn/Mary Laws , Polly Stenham; cinematographer: Natasha Braier; editor: Matthew Newman; music: Cliff Martinez; cast: Elle Fanning (Jesse), Christina Hendricks (Roberta Hoffman), Keanu Reeves (Hank), Jena Malone (Ruby), Abbey Lee (Sarah), Bella Heathcoate (Gigi), Desmond Harrington (Jack), Karl Glusman (Dean) ; Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lene Børglum /Sidonie Dumas /Vincent Maraval/Nicolas Winding Refn; Space Rocket Nation; 2016)

“The theme is as superficial as the Hollywood glamour scene it depicts.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”/”Pusher”) pushes the envelope with this far-fetched graphic psychological slasher thriller taken from a story he wrote about the hip Los Angeles fashion world and its jealous models who become vampires because of their competitive world. It’s a fetish horror pic, that’s glossy and visually arresting, if nothing else. It dazzles as an exploitation film that rails against exploitation. Jesse (Elle Fanning) is a newly arrived in Hollywood naturally beautiful teenage model, who has immediate success as a rising star. Her success gets others on the catwalk extremely jealous. Older models (Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee) want to kill their possible future replacement. Makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone) wants to fuck her.. Keanu Reeves plays the creepy motel manager, who has a mountain lion roaming the grounds.When Jesse’s relationship with her shutterbug boyfriend Dean (Karl Glusman) turns sour and the motel manager where she lives becomes unbearable, Ruby invites her to live in a communal mansion where there are models with fangs. It was not a good idea accepting that offer, as things turn weird and violent. In one unappealing scene, Ruby makes love to a corpse. The pic is a misfire–all style and no substance. The story is rotten to the core. The acting is bad. And the theme is as superficial as the Hollywood glamour scene it depicts. Refn has made an inert film that has nothing worthwhile to say about the world it mocks. Even if it has a few playful moments that give it some spark, the film is still lacking in crowd appeal.

Elle Fanning, Bella Heathcote, and Abbey Lee in The Neon Demon (2016)