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Nicolas Winding Refn: Next Great Horror Auteur?

Nicolas Winding Refn: Next Great Horror Auteur?

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s next feature will officially be “The Neon Demon,” an LA-set, female-led horror film he cowrote with Mary Laws. Refn dipped into genre moviemaking before with his kickass, po-mo noir “Drive,” but “Neon Demon” marks the director’s first leap into true horror movie terrain.

“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,” Refn told Deadline. The project will be up for sale at the American Film Market in Santa Monica this week, via France’s Gaumont and Wild Bunch. Refn’s usual suspects are on board: editor Matthew Newman and composer Cliff Martinez, who will be joined by Oscar-nominated “Grandmaster” cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd.

Most directors start with horror and move on—as was the case for Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Jackson, Oliver Stone and, to a degree, David Cronenberg, who shuttles between genres—while many others choose it. It may be that Refn, never one for restraint or R-rated barriers, is making a calculated move to direct a commercial hit to widen his options after his arty booed-at-Cannes flop “Only God Forgives.”

Refn’s progression into horror is a natural one. He loves “Twin Peaks” and David Lynch, whose fingerprints were all over “Only God,” Refn’s gory spaghetti western sendup.

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