To die for
After the perfection of Drive and the diversion of Only God Forgives, Nicholas Winding Refn's visual and aural mastery reaches its zenith.The Neon Demon is, as you would only expect from Refn, hard to place. Ostensibly, it's a tale of Elle Fanning's 16 year old 'innocent' whose striking natural looks captivate LA's fashionistas, much to the disdain of the last-next-big-things, whose jealousy of her becomes all-consuming. All the while, Fanning's starlet is being transformed by the attention into her own narcissistic nemesis. As a commentary on the eat-their-own-young world of fashion; the vanity and the narcissism; the exploitation and cold-blooded competition, The Neon Demon is an exquisitely crafted, visually arresting feature that unravels the vacuous fashion scene without mercy.However, as is unsurprising given both the title and Refn's predisposition towards subtext and symbolism, The Neon Demon is probably more appropriately quantifiable as an otherworldly horror, equal parts sci-fi and supernatural; a sort-of confluence between Black Swan and Under the Skin. There are themes of pagan occult worship, witches, rituals, and an almost literal neon demon - and of course the core Greek myth of Narcissus himself. Refn masters both worlds - real and fantasy - with some of his most striking visuals, whilst collaborator Cliff Martinez's arguably finest score draws you further into this world. For some it will prove one of the greatest experiences of the year.
Picture QualityThe Neon Demon comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a tremendous 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Digitally shot, the film looks quite simply exquisite, lapping up Refn's majestic, visually opulent shots.
The disc looks quite simply exquisite, perfectly rendering Refn's majestic, visually opulent shots
Detail is outstanding, revealing the flawless polished human mannequins on display, and soaking up the finer textures of Refn's layered landscape. The colour scheme - as you might have expected from a Refn feature - is popping with vibrant, vivid tones; rich, deep reds and blues pervade, with blood reds becoming an omnipresence across the runtime. Black levels are strong and deep, allowing for rich shadows, and overall this is a reference presentation through and through. Outstanding.
Sound QualityAs if things couldn't get any better, the soundtrack is at least as good, with Cliff Martinez tour de force score pervading the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (note, this is another disc which defaults to LPCM 2.0). Dialogue and effects - as you'd only expect from a Refn movie - take a distinct backseat to the score which plays a core role in this movie.
The score is some of Cliff Martinez's finest work
Nevertheless dialogue comes through clearly and coherently throughout, predominantly across the front and centre channels, whilst effects pick up camera clicks and roaring animals, and all the finer nuances that bring the environment to life. But it's Martinez's entirely non-organic score - i.e. entirely electronic - which brings Refn's world to life, perfectly blending to the visuals in a way Refn has not achieved since Drive. It's some of Martinez's finest work, and the track is demo and reference through and through.
ExtrasBoasting a number of interesting extra features, the disc is headlined by a great little Commentary track by the Director Refn, and star Elle Fanning, who talk about some of the symbolism; the organic development of some of the story elements which weren't in the original script, the tight budget, the casting and performances, and the seminal score.
The disc boasts a number of interesting extra features
There's a further, all-too-short, Featurette - Making the Music - which has Refn and Martinez look at the beats and thrum of the outstanding score, and the important part it plays in the movie, and all of the movies that they've made together. In addition we get an Interview between Refn and Fanning, although the information within is largely covered more comprehensively in the Commentary.
The disc is rounded off by an Image Gallery and the original Trailer.
An acquired taste but for some The Neon Demon will be one of the greatest experiences of the year
Undoubtedly The Neon Demon was always going to be one hell of an audiovisual experience and the U.K. release does not disappoint, with reference video and sublime audio for you to demo, likely good enough to tempt you into picking up Cliff Martinez's exquisite score to play independently. Indeed even the extras don't disappoint, although it would have been nice to have an isolated score track. Simply unmissable for Refn fans but the majority might want to test the waters first before considering it a must-have in their collection.
You can buy The Neon Demon on Blu-ray here
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