Not quite sure who Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed is? You probably would have if you were a female virgin living in Hungary in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. Indeed, notorious serial killer Aileen Wuornos has nothing on Elizabeth Báthory. Her modus operandi was kidnapping and killing virgins so that she could 1) bathe in their blood and theoretically become younger because of their essence and 2) at least stamp out a large number of youthful women “competing” against her.
Naturally, there is no better director to glorify the beauty and intrigue of violence such as this than Nicholas Winding Refn, who brought us the visual masterpieces Drive and Only God Forgives. Adding to his distinctive canon with his aptly titled new project, The Neon Demon, Winding Refn brings us back to the epicenter of vanity, Los Angeles, to reinvent the tale. Rather than force audiences to endure the average biopic formula (like 2011’s cut and dried The Countess, written, directed by and starring Julie Delpy as Báthory), however, Winding Refn is putting a beautiful spin on the plot by mixing in elements of Drop Dead Gorgeous‘ macabre plot, heavily influenced by the superficiality of pageant contestants (though, in The Neon Demon‘s case, it’s supermodels) and their desire to be seen as “the most beautiful” a.k.a. the most youthful–which is where Báthory’s sordid history becomes intertwined.
With confirmed actors like Keanu Reeves (a vampiric veteran from his Bram Stoker’s Dracula days), Christina Hendricks, Jena Malone and Elle Fanning attached to the film, there’s little doubt that it’s going to be another extraordinary work from Winding Refn, at least visually.