What is it about beautiful women and gore that makes a perfect cinematic compound? Lately I’ve had the chance to watch two very strange movies and I haven’t decided if I liked them or not. One thing’s for sure, I can’t stop thinking about them.
The Neon Demon (2016)
Written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, The Neon Demon struck me as odd from the beginning only to quickly get a seriously disturbing twist towards the end. The words “What the fuck???” came up a lot.
Synopsis via Rotten Tomatoes “When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.”
Starring Elle Fanning, Jena Malone and Keanu Reeves, The Neon Demon is a Psychological Thriller that addresses beauty in both its natural and fake forms. Models at each other’s throats. The first scene begins with a beautiful girl (Fanning) wearing a blue dress, lying on a sofa all covered in blood. The death of Snow White, as Refn implied on an interview. From then on, you are drawn towards what seems to be an awry plot that’s probably going to erupt any minute now. And I had no idea how much.
The Neon Demon has that same disturbing vibe as Black Swan, that just makes you super uncomfortable with every scene that occurs. Black Swan – not the other movie I was referring to, though, so bare with me. The photography is more than stunning, the story is a hot mess, and each character is stranger than the other. To make that clear, Refn emphasized colors Red and Blue in mostly dim-lighted sets, intense facial close-ups and a captivating soundtrack. Envy, violence, oddity, and grotesque are thrown right in your face, only to make you utterly shocked. No taboos in this movie, no, no. Are you curious enough? Do you have the stomach for it? Some called it rubbish, others, a mess. It even got booed off in Cannes. I rather found it unsettling but yet drawing. Your call.
The Lure (Córki dancingu, 2015)
Another one I just stumbled across, but those always turn out to be the best, right?
Synopsis via IMDb “In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters are adopted into a cabaret. While one seeks love with humans the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.”
Starring two fairly unknown beauties, Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska, The Lure is quite your bizarre comedy horror movie, filled with mystic and fantasy blended with glitter and cool music. Unlike The Neon Demon, which feels like walking through fog, The Lure pretty much tells it like it is. You mostly know what’s it about, but still anticipate to be thrown off. It’s your alternative version of The Little Mermaid.
The movie begins with twin sisters, Srebrna and Zlota (Silver and Gold) singing their luring mermaid song, drawing a father and a son into the water only to be discovered by the mother. Mermaids are known to seduce men with gentle singing, while women are immune to their charm. The aquatic sisters quickly join this family of cabaret performers and become the new talk of the town. Sequin costumes and flashy make-ups replace fish tails, and a glamorous stage substitutes the safe pond the twins resided in. Similar in physic, different in nature. Silver is naive and highly fascinated with humans. She soon falls in love. Gold is viciously dedicated to devouring human flesh and satisfying her never ending hunger. A contradiction splits between the sisters with one desperately trying to save the other from dissolving into foam. The Lure is amusing, monstrous, and seductive. It’s also very strange and puzzling, perhaps just another cinematic attempt from a foreign director to break the boundaries? One thing’s for sure, I was eager enough to see where it goes and how it ends and I absolutely enjoyed the songs and performances. Very cool.
The Neon Demon & The Lure – Common features
lead female roles, seduction, blood-shedding violence, entertainment, oddity, envy, fashion, neon, sequin and danger.
Did I miss anything?