Saw this three times probably about a month ago (would have seen it more but it jumped out of even the art-house theaters pretty quickly, I was surprised by the wide-ish release it got, but I assume that was because of Amazon, as Refn's last two films have purposely been made to run as far away from a general audience target as possible), definitely one of my favorite films of the year so far, perhaps my favorite (it is between this and "Knight of Cups" most likely, though I am a big Refn fan anyway).
Just visually, the surreal scenes, particularly the post-bathroom "party show" scene, the transformation fashion show scene where she sees her own reflection, and the chase scene (and even the first couple of photography sessions and the scene where she leans up against the wall to hear the horrible things going on next door before calling to get out of there) are just amazing. Strobe lighting in club scenes have been so overdone that they often seem kind of lazy pace changer scenes, but I have never seen anything like that post-bathroom "party show" scene.
Of course, Refn loves his tinting, especially his reds, but there are some greens and blues in there (in his commentary for "Only God.." he says that most of the tinting and coloring was done in post, though they did do some light bulb changing, I wonder if that was the same for this and how much of the strobing, etc, was done on set). It always gives his films an intense feeling and I don't think you can watch a Refn movie (even the Pusher movies) and not know pretty quickly that Refn made it. It's unique, it is something you don't see very often in movies, which I think is why it is so powerful. I liked the way the scene where the main character and her not really boyfriend are standing out by their car on the hill with the moon out was lit. Especially when the shot was toward him, he was lit almost fully (but not in an extreme way) while the entire background was pitch black. The photography session with Fanning and the creepy photography guy (Harrington) had some extreme surreal whites and the flash to black and then back up again, especially with her in such an obviously vulnerable condition, were really forceful. Just a lot of great scenes and setups throughout I thought. Probably one of those things where Production Designer Elliott Hostetter ("Night Moves", "Spring Breakers", a dresser in some Malick work) should get a lot of credit.
One thing I thought, non-visually, he did really well in "The Neon Demon" was his juxtaposition between the big music scenes (of course Cliff Martinez is fantastic) and the "dry" scenes. The best example occurs early on when the opening scene has the big music, no dialogue, and the disturbing images, followed immediately by a dialogue heavy scene with no music. I think this really helped pace the movie much better than say "Only God..." (which I absolutely loved) or "Valhalla Rising" (which I....liked less). There is plenty of dialogue, but there are plenty of scenes without any dialogue and instead filled with arresting images (much less staring intently at each other than "Drive" or "Only God...", which worked in those, but probably wouldn't have worked in this one).
Story wise, it also broke the conventions of story telling and screenplays for reasons I won't go into because of spoilers, but it has an exceptionally long "epilogue", but not in the way that many mainstream movies go two scenes too long or "Batman v. Superman" dragged on after the movie was over, or the end of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. In just the oddest way, it worked and tied the movie together by making sure that not everything in the story ties together in a neat way, and not in the bad horror movie twist at the end way.
Another note: I'm glad he used a female DOP, female writers, and a female cameraman for this movie. I think it really shows because this movie could have been exploitative, but it wasn't, in my opinion (though discussing this in detail would require a lot of spoilers I think). I really liked Braier's work in "The Rover", a very different slow and stylized film with occasional moments of extreme violence. I want to rewatch that film now.