One of Europe’s enfant terrible directors along with countryman Lars von Trier and Gaspar Noe, Nic Winding Refn is an arthouse darling who had After leaving mainstream audiences scratching their heads with projects like Only God Forgives and Drive, one of Europe’s reigning enfant terrible directors, Nicolas Winding Refn, is back with The Neon Demon.
Starring Elle Fanning at her most Hollywood ingenue-iest, the film is his love letter to the City of Angels and a horror movie set against the backdrop of the cutthroat world of modeling.
In Refn’s hands, being the Next Big Thing becomes a very bloody contact sport. It’s a sweating, pulsating nightmare-scape of the best and worst motifs from every young dreamer’s story of making it in LA — the visuals are sublime, the soundtrack is scorching hot and it’s a story about Hollywood only the 45 year old Dane could possibly make.
You wanted to make a horror movie first. Why did the world of modeling suit that?
I wanted to make a horror film about beauty — I didn’t want to make a horror film about fashion or models. [Beauty] is much more universal. I felt the fashion world was a great backdrop because it’s such a fairy tale landscape. It’s such a heightened reality. It’s so silly and funny, but yet also quite horrifying. It’s extreme on both ends. L.A. became a great location because a) it was the only place my wife wanted to go so that’s where we went. B) Hollywood to me is like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz. Everything leads back to that city, or that mythology that …everything leads back to Hollywood.
In making a film about LA in LA is it your way of subverting Hollywood from the inside out?
I love Hollywood. I love the mythology of it. I love the Hollywood environment. I love the mystery and I love the vulgarity. I love Los Angeles and I can’t drive a car. That says a lot. Hollywood is a state of mind in a way. It’s a kind of supernatural world we’re sucked into. A dream factory, whatever you want to call it. Both Drive and Neon Demon is very much about the Hollywood mythology.
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