Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Edgar Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp, Michael Ajao, Diana Rigg, and Rita Tushingham.
It’s been four years since Edgar Wright last released a film, Baby Driver back in 2017. Since then he’s been working on his first proper horror film (alongside a documentary about the band Sparks), which has received rave reviews from festivals around the world with another screening close to Soho at the London Film Festival, the perfect place to see his new mind-melding film.
Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) is a fashion student who moves to London to study. She moves out of the dorms, after not fitting in, and rents a bedsit. While living there she starts to have dreams that transport her back to the 1960s and lives the life of Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy). Sandie wants to be a singer and will stop at nothing to achieve that. Ellie starts to become obsessed with Sandie, changing her hair and fashion to match hers. The worlds start to meld together, until Ellie witnesses a murder in the 60s, where the killer is still around today.
Last Night in Soho is a stylish frenzy of neon lights, trippy sequences, and an energetic soundtrack of 1960s hits. Edgar Wright is a fantastic director, who seems to be getting better and better with each release. Last Night in Soho takes everything he’s done so far to another level. The use of music is fantastic, with songs being used to move from the modern day to the 60s. The neon lights that flash through Ellie’s window is haunting. The music is fantastic with an amazing score from Steven Price as well as a wide selection of hits from the decade.
While this film is being pushed as a horror film, there’s still the usual humour you’d expect from Wright. Jokes about London and stuck up characters are plentiful and quite a few got big laughs from the audience. The reactions were even bigger with the scary sequences. While it doesn’t rely on it too much, there are quite a few jump scares and shock moments. Combining that with the atmosphere that the film creates in the second half, with the modern world and the 60s becoming one and Last Night in Soho is a mind-melding experience.
The performances are stunning. Thomasin McKenzie is excellent as Ellie, the fashion designer who is obsessed with the look and sound of the 1960s. Anya Taylor-Joy commands the screen as the confident Sandie, who dreams of being a singer and is not settling for any less. Matt Smith gives his creepiest and most sinister performance yet as Jack, Sandie’s manager. After seeing him for so long as the loveable oafish Doctor Who, it’s quite jarring to see him as a truly horrible human being. Diana Rigg, in her final role, is also great. She gives a subtle and powerful performance as Ellie’s landlady.
Last Night in Soho feels like an Italian Giallo film from the 1970s with the murder mystery at the heart of it. The scene where Ellie witnesses the murder, where you can only see the knife moving up and down, with Ellie’s eyes reflected in it, would be right at home in an Argento film.
Edgar Wright has created another masterpiece. He’s one of the best directors working today and it feels like he’s holding nothing back here. Last Night in Soho is a wonderful film that is gripping from the first moment it starts.
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