The Neon Demon Ending Explained & Film Analysis

The Neon Demon is one of Danish director Nicolas Refn’s most confusing and controversial horror films. In films such as The Neon Demon, the meaning of the picture is always a matter of controversy. The Neon Demon meaning, summary, ending

Everyone interprets the plot in their own way: some are impressed, others deny the presence of any ideas in the film. A detailed analysis of the tape will help to understand the message of the creators of the picture and draw the right conclusions.


Analysis and analysis of the meaning of “Neon Demon” is better to start with a brief retelling of the plot of the film.

The location is Los Angeles. The main character is 16-year-old provincial Jessie, who dreams of becoming a model. In order to achieve her goal, the girl came to a big city.

Here she meets people from the fashion world:

  • photographer Dean;
  • make-up artist Ruby;
  • models Sarah and Gigi.

Interesting! At the time of the start of filming, actress Elle Fanning, who played Jessie, was, like her character, 16 years old. By the premiere, the young actress has reached the age of majority, she turned 18.

Jessie has a very beautiful and attractive appearance, so she easily passes the casting arranged by a prestigious modeling agency. The head of the agency, Roberta Hoffman, is ready to conclude a contract with the girl, but since Jessie is a minor, parental consent is required. The heroine finds a way out by forging the signatures of her parents.

Climbing to the top

Jessie’s first photo session is with celebrity photographer Jack MacArthur. Moreover, the photographer is so fascinated by the young model that he personally makes up her. Not every model is honored to star in MacArthur himself, and this causes the envy of the heroine’s newly-minted girlfriends – Sarah and Gigi.

The girls’ outrage grows even more after Jesse is selected for a fashion show by designer Robert Sarno. Sarah, also participating in the casting, goes unnoticed. In anger, the girl breaks the bathroom mirror, injuring Jesse.

During the treatment of a wound in a motel, the heroine, in a semi-conscious state, sees the neon glow of three triangles.

The girl’s career is developing rapidly. She becomes a member of many fashion shows. Success turns the heroine’s head. A shy, modest girl turns into an arrogant, self-admiring woman. Dean, whom Jessie initially sympathized with, becomes uninteresting to her.

Jessie is increasingly hallucinating and having nightmares at night. Waking up one night, she hears someone trying to pick the lock of her room. Unable to cope with the lock, the attacker breaks into the next room, from which women’s cries are heard to the heroine.

The girl leaves the motel in fear, moving in with Ruby. But, as it turned out, it’s not safe for the heroine to be here either.

First, the mistress of the house herself sticks to her, persuading her to have sex. And then the girl is attacked by Sarah and Gigi. Together with Ruby, they drown Jessie in the pool, then dismember her and eat her.

Ruby takes a bath filled with the blood of a murdered woman. She then lies down in a grave and later dies in the house, bleeding from her genitals.

Interesting! The prototype of Ruby was the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who takes baths from the blood of murdered virgins to preserve her youth.

The next day, Gigi becomes ill while filming. After making herself vomit, the girl spits out Jesse’s eye, and then completely cuts her stomach open with scissors.

Sarah, watching this, swallows the eye. In the last scene, a woman resembling Sarah is walking alone in the desert.

Neon Demon: The Meaning of the Plot

Before trying to understand what the meaning of what is shown in the Neon Demon film is, you need to move away from the specifics, considering the film from an abstract point of view.

Despite the fact that the action of the picture develops around the modeling business, showing the behind the scenes of the world of high fashion was not the main goal of the author. The main theme is beauty and its place in the world.

According to the author, the source of true beauty is innocence, purity, naturalness. But people do not pay much attention to this, and therefore such beauty does not exist for long. Its owner is similar to Narcissus. Having fallen in love with his image, he loses his naturalness, or he is “devoured”, giving out a more primitive version after processing.

So the main character became a victim of the “neon demon”. Pure, illuminating the world, the immaculate beauty of the girl at the beginning of the film turns into an artificial, cold, like neon light, by the end of the film.

The Neon Demon has a lot of symbols that reveal the meaning of the film. For example, the cougar that Jesse sees in his room. The wild cat is a symbol of the strength that lies in the appearance of the heroine. She is aware of it, but does not know what to do with it, therefore she is afraid.

Jessie’s transformation is shown through the heroine’s visions in the form of triangles. They are of different shapes, sizes and colors. Blue triangles with equal sides, symbolizing God’s purity and innocence, are replaced by red, versatile figures, indicating demonic, deadly beauty.

Could Jessie retain her uniqueness and identity by leaving this dastardly world? Perhaps if she had gone to Dean, her fate would have been different. The answer to this question remains open.

What is the essence of the ending

Most fully in the film Neon Demon, the meaning of the plot is revealed towards the end. Jessie’s self-confident reasoning that many dream of becoming her and are even ready to kill for such an appearance ends fatally.

Rivals kill the beauty and eat it. But this is not done to cover up the traces of the crime. It is more like a diabolical ritual.

The girls want to absorb some of Jessie’s beauty. Only Sarah is ready to take this ingredient. Ruby dies of blood loss, while Gigi becomes nauseous and rips open her stomach in an attempt to get rid of the contents.

As it turned out, “meat and blood” is not enough to fill the void in oneself. The point of the Neon Demon ending is to show that physical beauty alone is not enough. To gain strength, you need to have spiritual wealth and inner fulfillment.

To fully understand the meaning of “The Neon Demon”, filmed by Refn in 2016, it is advisable to review the film more than once. There is not a single empty phrase in the film. All the actions of the characters contain a subtle subtext in which everyone finds something of their own.

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