Nicolas Winding Refn tweeted on Monday evening a two-minute teaser trailer for his forthcoming Amazon-exclusive original series, Too Old to Die Young. He went on to delete the tweet sometime after, but fans were quick to post the video to YouTube. Ever a polarizing director, Refn seems to be pulling no punches here, as his macabre fascination with staging Giallo-style violence in the most striking and beautiful ways possible is on full display. This usually involves lots of harsh neon lighting and blunt, quasi-balletic violence that is underscored by a pulsating, wavelike soundscape that is occupied predominantly by chunky synth beats.
As far as the trailer goes, it sheds little light on plot and, instead, focuses heavily on stylistic tone. This is a through-line in all of Refn’s filmography, for better or for worse, and hopefully, it pays off for the better with Too Old to Die Young, because the visuals on display are as rapturous as they are stomach-turning. Muzzle flashes light up dark alleyways and blood reflects purple neon light as a body is dragged through some dreamlike hellscape that feels all too real. It is probably a nightclub—nightclubs are hell on earth—it has been decided. The cast, including Miles Teller, Jena Malone, Billy Baldwin and John Hawkes, all look to be putting on their moodiest faces as they shoot, stab and brutalize their way through the hauntingly beautiful muck and mire that is Refn’s fever-dream version of Los Angeles. Only Refn knows the answers that these characters seek, and he knows his fans will do whatever they can to know more, but he thrives on little teases. This tease, like everything else he has shared about Too Old to Die Young, suggests that this ten-episode series may just be his magnum opus.
When peering back into Refn’s oeuvre, one will begin to notice that his penchant for male-on-female violence is all too common, and this teaser does nothing to assuage the notion that he has changed in that regard. While he may take many an inspiration from the films of Dario Argento (Suspiria) and other Italian horror directors, as their penchant for female-based suffering is nigh-unrivaled, one would hope that Refn would find his own voice amidst the bloodshed and balance out the female suffering with something else entirely. Context is everything but his track record with this kind of stuff is shaky at best. He is one of the most original and daring voices in all of modern cinema, going as far as to proclaim himself an auteur, and while his films do not always hit their mark, the ones that do tend to seat themselves as near-instant classics, or cult classics—Drive, Pusher and Valhalla Rising come to mind. His work begs to be observed and admired as much as it begs to be spit upon and shunned. If one is diligent enough to peer through his glamorous violence and shock value, there is much to thematically mine from the darkest, most silent and devoid-of-neon corners of his filmography.
Check out the teaser trailer for Too Old to Die Young below. The series premieres on Amazon sometime next year.