If you've been aching for a new Nicolas Winding Refn film since 2013's gruesome and bizarre Only God Forgives, you're in luck: Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, the April-bound Lost River, looks like a looks like a halfway decent stylistic riff on a Refn joint. If only the real thing will do, well, you're in less luck, because The Neon Demon, Refn's next project, is scheduled to start shooting this coming March for a 2016 release.
So it's going to be a while before we see Refn's next lurid vision of Los Angeles in all its electric glory. Maybe that's okay; maybe Refn's viewers need a bit of a palette cleanse in between pictures. But for admirers of the Danish filmmaker's brand of graphic surrealism, the lead-up to The Neon Demon's release may be agonizing, particularly in light of a recent casting announcement that's given Elle Fanning her supporting troupe.
The bulletin comes from Variety, and, unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by women; Refn has made it clear from day one that The Neon Demon is a female-focused horror effort, and he's collected quite a slate of talented ladies to his cause. What that cause might be, exactly, is still a mystery, but it's Refn, so you can pretty safely bet that any hints he does drop about his plot will sound like impenetrable beat poetry.
Here's the full list of new additions to The Neon Demon's cast:
- Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
- Keanu Reeves (John Wick)
- Jena Malone (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1)
- Bella Heathcote (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
- Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Not a bad group, that; it's certainly off-beat, which pretty much describes Refn's body of work in a nutshell. Reeves may deserve first mention just because he sticks out like a sore Y chromosome. Given that The Neon Demon is purported to revolve around female characters, it seems pretty likely he'll be the lone dude among dudettes here. Either way, his distanced stoicism seems like a good fit for Refn's aloof proclivities.
Hendricks, Malone, Heathcote, and Lee, meanwhile, all make for potentially exciting casting, too, particularly Hendricks, reuniting with Refn after her role as the doomed gun moll in Drive, and Malone, who seems to be seeking out arthouse alternatives to her mainstream work in films like The Hunger Games franchise. How they intersect here is another unanswered question; they're all playing secondary parts to Fanning's principal, remember; and given that The Neon Demon doesn't have an official synopsis, it's hard to discern exactly how they'll be used in the film.
Taken together, the Neon Demon acting pack is an eclectic bunch, so maybe the real draw here will be seeing the interplay between the lot of them on screen. Keep your fingers crossed for Refn to bless us all with story details so we can get a better idea of where he, his co-screenwriter Mary Laws, and his cast are going with this one - beyond the intriguing clues offered by the director's previous official statement about the project:
"One morning I woke and realized I was both surrounded and dominated by women. Strangely, a sudden urge was planted in me to make a horror film about vicious beauty. After making Drive and falling madly in love with the electricity of Los Angeles, I knew I had to return to tell the story of The Neon Demon."
The Neon Demon arrives in theaters sometime in 2016.
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