Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn’s feverishly anticipated follow-up to Drive, garnered a fair share of vitriolic reviews veritably shaking with revulsion that such a visually gifted filmmaker as Refn would waste those gifts on such morally and aesthetically repulsive material. (Our own Scott Tobias was a little kinder.) Much of that criticism was directed toward what was seen as the film’s violent misogyny, which detractors felt was over-the-top to the point of grotesque self-parody.
Undeterred, Refn is returning to Los Angeles with The Neon Demon, which Deadline describes as a “female-led horror film” that Refn co-wrote with newcomer Mary Laws. The article quotes Refn, who describes the genesis of 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.”
The Neon Demon sounds like a project with the potential to either be a subversive and refreshing take on the complicated gender politics of horror, or unbelievably offensive. Refn will be collaborating once again with Cliff Martinez, who provided the acclaimed score for Drive and Only God Forgives, and Drive editor Matthew Newman, with The Grandmaster’s Philippe Le Sourd coming on as director of photography.
Refn had been planning to take on the thriller I Walk With The Dead as his next project, but that has reportedly been pushed to the back burner so Refn can concentrate on The Neon Demon, which is looking to begin filming early next year with an eye toward a 2016 release.
Refn also reportedly has a television series adaptation of the cult comic strip (and 1968 movie) Barbarella in the works through Gaumont, a French production company that is also co-funding and distributing The Neon Demon with The Wild Bunch. Barbarella was in development as a movie for a long time with Robert Rodriguez, so it’ll be interesting to see if Refn can finally get the project past the finish line.