Neon Lights is messy, so I’ll try to get through it as cleanly as possible. So we are following Clay, the CEO of a tech company and a guy with very serious anxiety. Now, this is like the extreme end of anxiety though, and I do not doubt that people like this do exist; it’s a very real thing. However, to make the movie as dramatic as possible, they’ve taken it to like extreme lengths of anxiety here.
And it just becomes a bit too much in many scenes. The way he walks, the way he stands, and his self-comforting a lot show out loud that he has anxiety. And that voice that he speaks in, he’s got this kind of calming raspy voice. You know, it’s almost like he whispering all of his lines here because he’s clearly a little bit nervous and a little bit unsure. And that’s throughout the whole movie.
With his declining mental health, he goes on a Talk show about his tech company, which does not go well for him. So following this, he needs to take a break and kind of focus on himself. So he uses this opportunity to put together a family reunion in his house in the middle of nowhere. That was a really good idea because nothing’s going to go wrong.
Neon Lights Movie Explained
At the start of Neon Lights, we’re introduced to Clay’s family. We’ve got Clay as the main lead here, then we’ve got his two brothers, James and Benny. And Benny has got his wife coming along Claire, and their daughter Blair.
They’ve done a name mash-up thing. It feels like fan fictions do it. I don’t know why this movie decided to do it. It’s not cute. It just feels like they’ve not thought about it, and it was a last-minute decision.
It was very clear that Clay has gone through something very traumatic, which has led to his mental health being the way it is now, and I fully respect that. Now picking up a movie that focuses on anxiety is not a bad idea. But it doesn’t paint it in the best light when it’s executed like this.
So Clay’s two brothers, let’s just get this out of the way, they’re are A-holes, just the worst guys. James seems to always come up with business ideas based on the conversations. But he doesn’t have the intelligence or money to execute them, so he relies on Clay for this. Whereas Benny just resents Clay, and that is very interesting, and that does get explored, but not as much as I would have liked to have seen.
But at least they touch on it and understand a bit more about that. Because it’s very clear that Clay’s done well for himself, he’s got this house. He’s the CEO of a tech company, whereas Benny’s just resentful, not of where he’s at now but of how he got there. The wife, Claire, is the only one who seems to make an effort and try and keep the piece going. But you don’t really feel like it’s necessarily always ending in Clay’s favor.
She’s just trying to maintain both her husband and Clay just so that the weekend has a nice atmosphere. You know, she’s playing sides, but of course, she leans towards her husband at the end of the day. And the daughter Blaire, she’s a bookworm. She’s more similar to Clay than she is to her own dad here. And so that again feeds into the resentment side of it. It’s a good angle, and I wish they’d done more with it.
And the last person I’ve not mentioned yet clearly stands out here in Denver. Denver is a very mysterious figure that’s clearly playing on Clay’s mind a lot. It’s also like his inner voice as well, just telling him a lot of things about being a man and reciting various things that probably came from his childhood.
The Anxiety In Neon Lights Explained
Now as you can probably expect, whilst they’re all here, things start to go a little bit awry. Some of the families start going missing, and this is where the movie just begins spiraling out of control. This is fitting because Clay also starts spiraling out at the same time. You can kind of see what they’ve done there. It’s okay.
And whilst he is spiraling out of control and his anxiety’s getting more of him, we cut between therapy sessions of him, him in the house, and this Denver character that just keeps creeping in. And then, as the movie progresses, we start seeing that these three elements are just blending together and bleeding into each other way more than they should be.
It’s very clear that they want to make this movie from the perspective of anxiety. The movie “The Father” starring Anthony Hopkins, which is fantastic if you’ve not watched it yet. That whole story is around dementia and its impacts of it. And that’s told from the perspective of somebody with dementia. The Father movie doesn’t make sense, but that’s a stylistic choice and makes sense in the bigger story.
Whereas in Neon Lights, they just want to F with you so much because he’s got anxiety, so it leaves you as an audience member not knowing what’s going on, feeling very uncomfortable, and it doesn’t make sense.
Neon Lights Movie Ending Explained
Why is this movie called Neon Lights? Some of the bedrooms have neon lights, and, you know, he’s a bit eccentric metaphor. I will say it’s very clear that once we hit that midway point, we get quite an interesting twist, and then at that midway point,t the movie’s just rushing to get to the big finale and the big reveal. And I’ll be honest. Those reveals come in at the very end, like the very end of the movie.
Everything’s not explained, and then we’ve got a few minutes to breathe. No, you have time to think about this when the credits are rolling and no time sooner. But Clay’s anxiety just gets too much. He’s clearly struggling with the family dynamics.
But then, as it’s going on, he starts to get a little bit more confident, but it feels like that kind of false confidence, and ultimately it just becomes very scary. He’s doing the kind of fake evil laugh. It’ss kind of a joker-ish thing going on.
And it’s weird because, throughout the movie, you don’t like him. To begin with, you do feel for him when his brothers are just total dicks. But then, as it’s going on and he starts becoming less anxious and trying to be more controlling, you don’t like Clay.
Whilst you watch the movie, you’ll like him less and less. Once you make sense of the film and everything comes together, you realize he’s not so bad. And that’s what I mean by it doesn’t seem to do well for mental health because it’s really painting a person with anxiety here as the villain because of their anxiety.
Who Kills Clay’s Family?
The first murder undoubtedly occurs soon after the family gathers. During their first evening together at Clay’s home, James is the first one to die in a string of murders. Benny is the next victim, and by the time it reaches Clarissa, the killer’s identity—Denver Kane—has finally been revealed.
Yet, as Clay’s madness intensifies, we come to understand that Denver Kane is a creation of Clay’s trauma and that Clay is accountable for all the gruesome killings. Denver Kane, who is once again Clay’s murderous side, pursues Blair while an unstable and insane Clay tries to stop him.
In the end, Blair dies as a result of Clay’s insanity. In the end, Clay kills his dad as well because he is the only person remaining, and there is no one else to save. But then comes Clay’s therapy appointment right after. It’s a breakthrough that he has dealt with his history and traumas. Everything he experienced was a mental allegory for the abuse he had suffered on the part of his family.
He eliminated the trauma they had intentionally or unintentionally caused him by bringing them back together and ultimately killing them in the estate inside his head. So the issue of whether he killed his family or not still stands. A shot of a newspaper story that is presented toward the film’s end gives an answer to that question.
A photograph of his father, his siblings, and Clarissa with the headline “Media Mogul Murders Family.” This is Clay’s background that is frequently hinted at throughout the first act of the film. He must recover from his trauma: He holds himself responsible for his father killing his family because he was powerless to stop him.
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