Film Review: “Last Night in Soho”

Film Review: Last Night in Soho

Ghosts, a murder mystery, and a lavish 1960s backdrop: the core componets of a thrilling tale that will keep you hooked the whole time. Edgar Wright delivers just that in his latest film “Last Night in Soho.”

Edgar Wright’s film “Last Night in Soho” takes the horror genre and twists it into a new and exciting experience while differentiating it from the other standard horror films (i.e. “Halloween Kills,” “Spiral,” etc.) that have been pumped out recently. The film follows Eloise (Thomasin McKensie) as she heads to London to pursue her passion for fashion design. While there, she mysteriously enters the 1960s and the life of aspiring singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) and starts to uncover the sinister secrets of the past. The film’s secretive marketing strategy to keep the twist and turns hidden works in its favor, keeping viewers’ interest piqued the entire time.

Wright does an excellent job of mixing horror, thriller and suspense elements to make viewers feel as unsettled and anxious as Eloise. It is not marketed as a horror film so one should not go in expecting a multitude of jumpscares, but when they do happen they are effective and  purposeful. He applies the same techniques he used with his film “Shaun of the Dead” such as fast camera movements and clever editing to balance a chilling tone with comedic flair. Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung does an amazing job showing the glitz and glamour of 1960s London through the set design in contrast with the seedy and frightful parts. His use of neon lights definitely makes it the “neon-fuelled nightmare” that Anya Taylor-Joy describes it as. The fast paced editing and rapid camera movements add a magical element, allowing viewers to transport themselves back in time along with Eloise.

While this was a visually stunning film, its characters did not shine as bright as Soho’s neon lights did. Eloise is the character we spend the most time with, learning about her past and following her through her journey through the ‘60s. Through her we are introduced to Sandie and slick-talking ladies’ man Jack (Matt Smith). Since we only see them through Eloise’s perspective, we do not get to spend much quality time with them to develop a deeper understanding of their character. The era they come from is so enthralling you want to see more of them but sadly, viewers are confined to what Eloise sees and hears. Despite being with her the whole time, we do not get full answers to some of Eloise’s bizarre gifts such as being able to see ghosts and the past. Wright seems to have taken the ‘style over substance’ route in making this passion project which makes for a great looking film with aesthetically pleasing, one-dimensional characters. As some might view style over substance as a bad thing, it is just seen as Wright’s usual directorial style as seen in his previous films (“Baby Driver”, “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”). Some films rely more on the visual aspects to tell a story and it works better for this film. Setting aside how they are written, Thomasin McKensie, Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith all give incredible performances that complement each other.

This fun, spooky psychological thriller is definitely Wright’s love letter to Soho; you can feel his love for the town and the ‘60s in the way it depicts both the glamour and the darker sides of mid-century London. It is a must see in the theaters as the theatrical experience helps immerse the audience in the world through the booming score that will rattle your seat in the darkness of the theater. It is a fun time and a great film to enjoy during the Halloween season despite the shallowness of some of the characters.

Grade: A
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith
Release Date: Oct. 29, 2021
Rated: R

Image courtesy of NME.

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