Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn has confirmed via his Twitter account the casting of Elle Fanning (Maleficent) as the lead in his female-driven horror film The Neon Demon. The plot tagline reads as “an aspiring young model is caught in a world of beauty and demise” and has been previously described as “a horror film about vicious beauty” set in Los Angeles.
Refn previously dealt with the gilded darkness of Los Angeles in his 2011 film Drive (one of the most popular representation of LA in recent cinema; see also: Nightcrawler, Collateral, etc.). With the extended representation of the city in the form of a woman – a model, appropriately enough – Refn’s horror story sounds like a natural progression of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001).
Refn’s Drive actress Carey Mulligan was previously rumored to be cast in The Neon Demon‘s lead role. The decision to cast a sixteen year-old Fanning in her place will most likely change the dynamic of the film – perhaps somewhere along the lines of Kirsten Dunst’s role in The Virgin Suicides (1999).
As Refn rounds out the remaining cast and filming begins this spring, Fanning will in the meantime be appearing alongside Bryan Cranston (AMC’s Breaking Bad) in the biopic Trumbo, and will be starring opposite Naomi Watts (Birdman) and Susan Sarandon (The Lovely Bones) as a transgender teen in Three Generations.