Last month events conspired to keep me out of the theaters - movies I don't care to see, bladder infections, etc. - so I only got out to see one offering.
Having enjoyed the two previous films I have seen directed by director Nicholas Winding-Refn I was excited to see his latest 'controversial' movies. Surely the most controversial thing was that it was playing in a multiplex in
in the summer. Surely that valuable screen space could have been the fourth or
fifth screen for the nobody-asked-for-it INDEPENDENCE
DAY sequel! But I got lucky and co-financier Amazon pushed it out into American
chains were it could earn about a million and change and then get dumped ASAP.
But, how was it?
I liked THE NEON DEMON quite a lot, actually. That's not to say I think most people will also enjoy it as I have odd tastes and bizarre, slow films interest me more than the average filmgoer. Make no mistake - this is a very carefully crafted slow burn so if you aren't good with delayed gratification this one is not for you. It IS a horror film but one in which the horror slowly builds over the course of events first affecting a sense of unease and fear for the teenaged protagonist alone in a city of users and sleaze. Then, as sinister intentions become less veiled, the darker aspects of the various characters are revealed and things ramp up to a bloody and startling series of final acts.
I've read some takes on this film saying it is a thumb in the eye of the fashion industry and its never ending churn of fresh new faces for the camera. Of course, that means it's also painting the film industry in the same shameful and condemning colors - mostly red. Cinema has always been aware of the fact that it is creating images often worshipped by those with no hope of being on that big screen. THE NEON DEMON plays with the darkest end of the emotions that worship causes in the pretty young things that ache to be the object of that attention. It's a beautiful, deliberate film full of Argento and Bava inspired images but Winding-Refn refuses to rush to get to what horror fans will call 'the good parts'. For that they will hate him and I laud him. Bring on the next art horror film, sir. You are at least amusing me!
THE OBSCENE MIRROR (1973) - 8 (Franco and Emma Cohen)
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) - 4 (rewatch)
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) - 8 (rewatch of the longer cut)
THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY (1964)- 5 (most of the humor is sad but there is some entertainment value in spots)
GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1972) - 6 (a rapist vampire!)
JAWS OF SATAN (1981) - 6 (fun low budget
lensed JAWS rip-off with snakes) Alabama
THE FALCON STRIKES BACK (1943)- 5 (average for the series with bad sidekick comedy)
WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976)- 8 (rewatch)
HUSH (2016) - 7 (well done woman-in-peril siege film)
GLADIATOR (2000) -10 (rewatch - Extend Edition)
SOYLENT GREEN (1973) - 9 (rewatch)
THE SIN SHIP (1931) - 5 (creaky melodrama with Mary Astor)
BRIDGE OF DRAGONS (1999) - 5 (not bad, low budget post-apocalyptic fantasy)
CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR (1965)- 6 (decent sword & sandal epic)
NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984)- 4 (terrible but fun)
KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1962) - 5
THE NEON DEMON (2016)- 7 (LA fashion bloodsuckers)
CHATO'S LAND (1972) - 7 (solid revenge western)