The darkest shade of neon 

The Neon Demon (2016)

Dir: Nicholas Refn 

If you were to see this on Netflix, without knowing anything about it, and toyed with the idea of watching it because the visual was cool, and the bloke who did Drive directed it,  then don’t watch it. 

Really, don’t.

I’m not even really sure if Netflix is the right platform for Nicholas Refn. Without sounding like a prentious douchewipe, I see this as more a “Amazon Prime” scenario; the type of film a Kimmy Schmidt viewer may not immediately go to as their first port of call, (unless said Kimmy Schmidt viewer likes cannibalism and necrophila). It doesn’t feel particularly organic, what section would you even put The Neon Demon in? Certainly not “party on!” (Ironically currently featuring Bojack Horseman). 

I digress…don’t get me wrong guys, Nat (my flatmate and very close friend) watched it with me, having no prior context whatsoever, and Nat enjoyed it. I was, however, kind enough to point out that there would be lesbian morgue sex about halfway through, and also that pace was not exactly high on Refn’s priority list. Clearly we needed to stablish some fundamentals prior to our sunday night junk food and horror sesh.

In fact we, and possibly a few other humans sporadically dotted around the globe, enjoyed this movie. The dude from the guardian film section seemed to like it (dude from Rolling Stone magazine….didn’t like it so much). Proof, at the risk of stating the mind-blowingly obvious, that not everything is for everyone.

End of review

Just kidding.

Let me start by explaining that this movie isn’t Drive. A lot of people were passionately pissed off that he didnt make another ‘masterpiece’ like Drive (Drive 2?) and wrote a lot of unsavoury shit about Refn. He famously got booed at Cannes, (often a great PR move), with some even walking out in outrage and shock (think Lars Von Trier circa six years ago). Folks were not happy; apparently appalled and shocked, calling this movie depraved and sickening. So many people got really touchy about the some of the themes, (a far cry from cars, masculinity or crime), that it’s really become a “thing” in relation to the film. So let’s just clarify once and for all that a.Nicholas Refn is allowed to make other types of films that don’t include or involve Ryan Gosling and b. Can we all just get the fuck over Drive. Yes it was incredible, but he’s exploring something else, it’s cool if you don’t like it, let’s move on.

This particular film explores dark topics, in a less than subtle fashion. Excess and materialism marry together beautifully mmm against the isolation backdrop of a dark LA. Everything is visually beautiful, but also feels incredibly detached and in some cases clinical. This notion is further enhanced by the flat conversations between the characters, (its not bad acting, despite Keanu Reeves), the lack of any real emotion in any of the other characters (aside from anger, which is what shapes the end), and the very obvious disposable nature of those within this “world”. If the conversations seem like non starters, its kind of the aim; everyone’s dead on the inside and hates each other.  

The premise is a beautiful child (that’s what I’m calling her, because she’s 16), enters the world of modelling and discovers pretty quickly that you can’t trust anyone. Problem is, this young beautiful ethereal girl (played by the very cute Elle Fanning), becomes increasingly more narcissistic and selfish the more she is sucked into “the neon demon” (a metaphor for the bright shiny lights of the hollywood machine). Her mannerisms subtly change, she grows increasingly more self aware…and kind of turns into a dick. Another casualty of LA.
On the sidelines are groups of grown ups out to get her in various ways. Each with their own set of vile intentions; be it lust, jealousy or power, that culminate in an actual blood bath…

Literally.

So i’m sure you’ree all dying to know about the necrophilia scene (no pun intended)…well, i never thought i would say this, but there is actually a worse scene in this film. That scene ladies and gents, involves Keanu Reeves in a shellsuit forcing a knife down Jessie’s throat. This alone was so stomache churning and dark that it made me question whether i wanted to see what was on its way, which I’m sure was the whole point. This scene also marks a change of pace, because up until this point it’s all been pretty visuals and awkward conversations.

I won’t pretend that this film isn’t self aware, or a little slow. It’s both. If you want to watch a “horror” movie with haunted houses and chainsaws, this might not be your bag. Yes he does borrow a lot; everything from Italian horror, to Kubrick to Lynch. Yes it’s very stylised and very visual. Is it shit? No. It isn’t.

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Deliver us from tired scripts

Sometimes I go and watch horror movies and I’m all like “meh”. The usual haunted house/scary Japanese chick with long hair/young possessed catholic girl/ hillbillies who eat people situation. As a horror fan you get so used to these formulas then eventually you’re just like immune…and often jaded…and that’s fine I guess, just a bit disappointing.

It’s nice to occasionally see something, y’know, different

The Pact. That was different. That was pretty cool actually. I liked The Pact. That was some scary shit.

Cockneys vs. Zombies. (see last post), also different, funny, really well acted, not the most terrifying, but whatever, it was pretty cool.

Sometimes different can be bad. Like when P-Diddy did that song “come with me” or when David lynch made that experimental movie with all the rabbits, and the shaky camera. That’s when different starts to unnerve me and make me wish things were normal again.

And then you get films like “Deliver Us from Evil”, which ironically fulfils it’s title in more ways then you can ever hope for.

So let’s just clarify one thing- this is not a horror movie. It thinks it’s a horror movie, in fact it actually dresses itself up as one; the trailer, the demonic possession “storyline”, the music box and the scary stuffed toy, the dude who’s covered in Latin writing carved into his skin….we get it, you’re trying.

Only it’s not really a horror movie.

It’s basically a really long episode of CSI, with some supernatural shit thrown in for good measure. It’s actually not even CSI, it’s borderline “buddy” movie, you know those 80s buddy movies, like Beverly Hills cop or Miami vice? Where they love their partner in a non homoerotic way, and yet seem to spend more time with them then with their wives? Those movies. It was one of those movies.

Steven Segal could totally be in this movie. That’s how 80s this shit is.

 

Ok so what’s it about? Fuck knows to be honest. Three disillusioned soldiers go nuts in Iraq after stumbling on a possessed ancient burial ground/ gates of hell (it’s not made clear, but you get the gist). They all go nuts and come home and do cray cray shit.

The police officer, played by an extremely boring Eric bana (who looks like Matt Dillon a LOT), is doing his best at a New York accent, and gets a “radar” when he knows he’s onto something. His partner, played by some unknown who looks like Fred durst, is the most annoying “bro” character known to MAN. Not gonna lie, when he died I didn’t even care. Like not even a bit. Sorry yo, I just didn’t.

So they find these guys doing isolated nutty stuff (beating their wives, scratching shit into their walls, killing cats) and realise the Iraq link.

Then there’s the possession stuff.

Then there’s this priest.

Ok so I really need a MOMENT to talk about this priest. This guy has got to be some type of inside joke, because there is no way in hell the writers were keeping a straight face when they included a sexy, ex junkie catholic priest who looks like a Latin jazz singer and sings in Spanish whilst performing exorcisms….

oh and works out….and smokes slowly….and drinks whisky….whilst sweaty…..

No seriously you guys, seriously. Don’t even..

So in a nutshell this is forgettable, uninspired and really overlong.

Olivia munn is also in this and she annoys the crap out of me, so there’s another reason to avoid it.

Save your money and buy a ouji board instead. Much more entertaining

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Posession for beginners. How to avoid moving into a demonic house, and other real estate issues

You’re a perfectly nice person, with a perfectly lovely family. No-one in your household has a history of mental illness, throws any kind of temper tantrums, or even really argues. Generally the overall tone of your residency is mellow, and you’re kind of awesome.

And then you move into a big old house with a chandelier in the hallway, and a huge living room, maybe a fireplace, some space to post a few photos, and you’re feeling pretty confident that this place is your home for life. Your happy and excited, and kind of tired from the move, but the overall tone is content.

And then crazy shit starts to happen.

And you hear noises

And you see footsteps

And the photos fall off the walls

The chandelier starts swinging like crazy.

so in your panick you call in the paranormal guy who just wants to get the hell out of your bullshit house. And that’s usually a bad sign

And now your feeling shitty because you’ve got a mortgage and a potential demon, and on the whole the two don’t mix very well.

And now you hate the house, and the stupid chandelier, and your partner thinks your nuts, and the kids (if you have them) are making imaginary friends and the dog keeps barking.

And your pissed off and REALLY tired

So based on my expert knowledge of demons and films…and stuff i’ve seen in films about demons, I am here to help you not make that mistake. Once you’re in the house your basically dead (sorry), but if you are a potential buyer, here are some pointers.

  • Avoid Ouji Boards
  • If the dog doesn’t like the house, don’t move in
Roger wasn't happy with the new neighbours

Roger wasn’t happy with the new neighbours

  • When the youngest starts talking to Rory, pack your shit and sell up
  • Dont film anything
  • Paranormal-Activity-3
  • Try not to taunt it
  • Stairs are usually a hinderance. Try and go for an apartment
  • If your Catholic housekeeper isn’t feeling the vibe, listen to her. She knows what she’s talking about
  • Your partner started sleepwalking? break up with them they’re possessed

paranormal-activity5

  • Wind chimes, dream-catchers, hanging bits of feathers. No. Your asking for it.
  • You can’t sleep? That’s because someones watching you. Move out