"Is Physical Beauty a Blessing or a Curse?"

Content: -4 Gross immorality, and/or worldview problems.

What You Need To Know:

In THE NEON DEMON, a narcissistic 16-year-old orphan, Jesse, moves to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career. Once there, she learns the darkness and lonely life surrounding the modeling industry, but it doesn’t faze her because she’s so confident about her looks. However, when a top agency signs her and a fashion photographer sees her potential, two older models become filled with jealousy and rage, no matter how nicely Jesse treats them. Eventually, when Jesse rebuffs their friend’s lesbian advances, murder and cannibalism become their solution to the problem of Jesse.

THE NEON DEMON is a strong stylistic movie with striking sets and lots of glitz, especially in the movie’s fancy photo shoots. These scenes create some beautiful imagery. However, the storyline displays more style than substance. Thus, although THE NEON DEMON presents a provocative critique of modern narcissism and jealousy, it wears out its welcome when the story degenerates into extreme sex, violence and nudity, including necrophilia and lesbian lust. The infrequent foul language is the least of the movie’s moral problems. Ultimately, though, MOVIEGUIDE® can’t commend the abhorrent NEON DEMON.


(HHH, B, HoHoHo, LL, VVV, SSS, NNN, A, D, MMM) Very strong nihilistic humanist worldview with some moral points about the evils of narcissism and jealousy in the modeling world, with very strong immoral themes involving murder, cannibalism and lesbian lust, and a message that life is hopeless unless you have outward beauty; 15 obscenities (including several “f” words) and two light profanities plus some vomiting, including girl vomits up human eyeball she ate; excessive violence with much blood includes woman pushed into empty swimming pool, where she is shown bleeding to death, girl smashes a bathroom mirror, and later another girl cuts her hand on one of the shards of glass, photographer stages a murder tableau with a girl bleeding from her neck and down her arms, implied cannibalism, nude female models wash off blood in shower together after cannibalizing another model of whom they were jealous, girl stabs herself in the stomach after going insane, girl punched, girls with knives chase another girl, fighting, model bathes in blood of another model she murdered, model eats a human eyeball after another model vomits it up and stabs herself to death, woman hears sounds of another woman being attacked in a hotel room next door, and makeup artist for models works in a mortuary making corpses look presentable for funerals; very strong sexual content includes woman makes love to a female corpse while thinking of a 16-year-old girl touching herself in a sensuous ways, woman tries to seduce 16-year-old girl by lying on top of her and trying to kiss her face after kissing her shoulder, but teenage girl throws her off, and she falls to the floor, then leaves, two nude women touch one another in shower while washing blood off their bodies after cannibalizing their female victim, photographer orders young model to take off all her clothes, and then he’s shown sensuously smearing gold paint around her shoulders and neck, nude woman writhes on floor while moon shines into a dark room, crude talk about using sex to advance one’s modeling career, and 16-year-old confesses she’s never been with any one; partial images of full female nudity in about three scenes, upper female nudity in about four scenes, women in underwear in a couple scenes, and 16-year-old pretending to be 19 takes off her clothes at photographer’s request, but the nudity isn’t shown; alcohol use; several people smoke cigarettes; and, very strong miscellaneous immorality including lying, stealing, jealousy, revenge, greed, hate, and extortion.

More Detail:

THE NEON DEMON is a disturbing thriller about the darkness surrounding the modeling industry. Nicely photographed, THE NEON DEMON is fairly cogent analysis about modern narcissism and jealousy, but it goes off the rails in the third act when the filmmakers combine graphic sex and violence, including cannibalism.

When youthful, innocent 16-year-old Jesse moves to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career, she is in for a shocker when she discovers the path to success is a lonely one, and beauty on the inside is not what counts in the entertainment industry. Jesse doesn’t know anything about the business, the big-named photographers, or what to do to succeed, but a female modeling agent sees a star in her. She instructs her to do as she says and always say she’s 19. The agent lands Jesse a test shoot with a world-famous fashion photographer.

Jesse returns to her rundown motel in Pasadena, the only place she can afford to stay, where her online photographer friend, Dean, is waiting to take her out. He greets her with a handful of pink roses, and they drive to a secluded mountain top. Jesse confesses she’s not good at anything in life, but she’s pretty and being pretty sells. Dean reminds her she is so much more, but she doesn’t see it in herself. Acting like a gentleman because of her age, he takes her back to her motel.

When she returns to her room, she sees something in it, so she gets the seedy manager and his assistant. They discover a mountain lion has gotten into her room because Jesse left the sliding door in the back open.

Back in the world of modeling, Jesse’s star begins to soar. She earns some enemies in Sarah and Gigi because Jesse’s youthful looks are more in demand. However, Sarah and Gigi’s makeup artist friend, Ruby, befriends Jesse. Yet, when Jesse rebuffs Ruby’s lesbian advances, Ruby and her two friends decide to take out some brutal revenge on Jesse.

THE NEON DEMON is nicely photographed. This tale of jealousy, narcissism and revenge also has a captivating sense of moody tension, fueled by some driving and subtle techno music. However, the movie wears out its welcome when the story degenerates into extreme sex, violence and nudity, including necrophilia, cannibalism and lesbian lust. The infrequent foul language is the least of the movie’s moral problems.

Ultimately, NEON DEMON is abhorrent.