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Mace & Crown | March 25, 2017

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Monarch Movie Minute: ‘The Neon Demon,’ ‘4th Man Out’ and ‘Knock Knock’

Monarch Movie Minute: ‘The Neon Demon,’ ‘4th Man Out’ and ‘Knock Knock’
Tyler Passarge
Staff Writer

‘The Neon Demon’ (2016) | R | 118 min. 🎬🎬
Anyone familiar with the work of writer and director Nicholas Winding Refn knows that his films tend to divide audiences. While the look of his films are absolute eye candy, his stories and the ideas he plays with are a real head scratcher and will certainly get people to talk. That description of a Refn film doesn’t really change with his new film, “The Neon Demon.”

Described as a psychological horror, the film tells a story of Jesse (Elle Fanning), a teenage runaway who heads to California to become a model. Turning the heads of everyone in the business right away, Jesse’s looks and beauty quickly becomes the subject of everyone around her. As Jesse fits herself into the role of a high-end model, everyone’s obsession begins to grow deadlier.

One thing that can be said about Refn is his use of the camera lens. The director never wastes a moment to turn every shot into a beautiful painting. His use of colors and camera tricks go perfectly hand in hand with the synthesizer soaked soundtrack to create an eerie and dark image of obsession. The cinematography alone could carry a feature-length film.

Much like the characters in his film, “The Neon Demon” is beautiful but shallow. While Refn does create a movie that has a beginning, middle and end, nothing that happens between those three points really connect. When the film finally closes with its bloody conclusion, it ultimately means nothing. It holds its viewers’ interest, but the simplistic plot and bland characters offer nothing.

While anyone who is into cinematography should give it a chance, the imagery is the only reason to see this movie.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

‘4th Man Out’ (2015) | NR | 86 min. 🎬🎬🎬
After turning 24, Adam (Evan Todd) decides to finally come out of the closet to his three blue collar friends. Although the revelation initially comes as an immense shock to his buddies, they eventually try to come to terms with Adam’s sexual orientation. To show that they support him, Adam’s exceedingly macho friends take it upon themselves to help guide him through the gay dating scene.

A favorite at LGBT-themed film festivals like Outfest and InsideOut film festival, “4th Man Out” is, for the most part, a very likable film that plays as both a coming out story and a bro-y dating story. While not all of the characters are really fleshed out and fully realized, they are people the viewer cares about and will root for.

However, while “4th Man Out” isn’t without its charms, the script is certainly something that is lacking in anything daring or new. Even when Adam’s friends begin to accept him for his orientation, they still never move past their assumptions of what it means to be gay (i.e. being surprised that a gay man can eat a steak). This makes for some really bad and horribly outdated humor.

Even with the outdated jokes regarding gay people, the film’s script still fails itself by having virtually no conflict throughout the film. Everything that seems like an obstacle to the main character, like coming out to his parents, has such a lackluster resolution that it’s almost insulting.

Ultimately what saves the movie from being borderline bland are all the main actors that soak the film with charisma. It’s certainly a flawed movie, but for what it’s worth, “4th Man Out” is a decent watch.

This film is available on Netflix.

‘Knock Knock’ (2015) | R | min. My Rating: 🎬🎬
When Evan’s (Keanu Reeves) wife and kids leave for the weekend, he looks forward to alone time to finish some work. This changes though when two beautiful women, Genesis (Lorenzo Izzo) and Bel (Ana De Armas), come knocking on his front door hoping to borrow a phone. As the three begin talking, Genesis and Bel begin to try to seduce Evan. Although he initially rejects them, eventually temptation grabs a hold of him.

When he wakes up the next morning, Evan finds that the girls have destroyed his home and have no plans on moving out before his family comes back. When he attempts to call the police on the girls, that’s when they reveal they are both underage. Now at the mercy of Genesis and Bel, Evan has to find a way out of this mess and get the girls out before his family gets home.

Normally known for being one of the fathers of the “torture porn” genre that plagued horror movies a decade ago, director Eli Roth this time decided to dip his toes in the thriller genre. In the film “Knock Knock,” Roth wants to show the world that he has matured as a storyteller who doesn’t need blood and guts to titillate his audience. What follows though is a misguided thriller with no substance.

During the entirety of the movie, Roth seems to be straddling the line between a thrilling and campy tone. Sadly for Roth, whatever thrills are in “Knock Knock” never work and his attempts at legit comedy are embarrassingly misplaced.

This film is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.


Rating System:

🎬 — Straight to DVD.
🎬🎬 — Well, there goes 2 hours of my life!
🎬🎬🎬 — Add to my queue.
🎬🎬🎬🎬 — A must see.
🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬 — Mind blown!