2021 was a busy year for Edgar Wright with wooing as well as educating us with The Sparks Brothers documentary. Ending the year with the genre mixing psychological thriller Last Night In Soho. As the ghosts of the past terrorise a young aspiring fashion designer or is it all in her mind?
Many cities all around the world become magnetics to many young people as answers to their dreams and aspirations. Be that perfect jobs or education, our mindsets have these metropolis cue fairytales and all your problems will be resolved. Behind the glitz and glamour of these great cities there is a dark underbelly ready to enslave you.
Thomasin McKenzie (JoJo Rabbit, No Trace) is the young woman hypnotised by the bright lights of London. Eloise is an aspiring wannabe designer who heads to the big smoke to study fashion, she is also obsessed with the 1960’s: the music, the fashion and pop culture. Things don’t get off to the best of starts at her university campus, moving out within one day. She does find that ‘perfect room’ to in Soho. Renting from an elderly landlady (Diana Rigg in her final role) trapped in the decade Eloise loves, the 1960’s.
After going to sleep Eloise suddenly finds herself transported back to the swinging 60’s mirroring the footsteps of wannabe singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) looking for her big moment. Are these just Eloise’s dreams? delusions? The longer she stays in this world it becomes more dangerous for her.
Last Night In Soho is possibly Edgar Wright‘s most devisive film to date. Like any filmmaker you should always be willing to step out of your comfort zone, Wright already did this with Baby Driver (2017). Proof that he has life outside his most successful films, the Cornetto Trilogy. This film is probably Wright‘s most personal to date, as his Mother worked in Soho when she was younger. Wright himself is fascinated with those ghosts from the decade, they all have a story to tell many still haunt present day.
The myriad of cineaste references and tropes on show are indebted to classic horror. From the Voyuerism/Fetishism of Michael Powell‘s Peeping Tom (1960) to the claustrophobia of Polanski‘s Repulsion (1965). Last Night In Soho most of all is Wright‘s take on Giallo especially Dario Argento‘s Suspiria (1977) and Deep Red (1975).
At the start of the film Eloise can see her dead mother in her bedroom mirror, suggesting she maybe like the director mother she can see ghosts of her own past. As the film progresses when she sees Sandie, those visions turn nightmares, Eloise maybe suffering from mental health issues. The tone of the film could also be described as ‘schizophrenic’ . She is determined to succeed where her mother failed, desire quickly turns to obssession. She relates her own journey with Sandie’s that take a dark, sinister turn, highlighting the expliotive, sexual violence women faced and sadly some still today.
Like Baby Driver the score once again plays a pivotal part of the film. The sounds are epic from Petula Clark, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, The Kinks, Sandie Shaw to name a few. All evoking the era and also a reminder that not everything from that decade was a sugarcoated dream. Rita Tushingham, Terrence Stamp and Diana Rigg are magnetic and bring authenticity, all who made there name in the decade. Matt Smith is distrubingly debonair, the stars of the show are McKenzie and Taylor-Joy. Eloise is innocent, determined, but still fragile with Sandie charismatic and knows what she wants.
Last Night In Soho is not perfect, loosing itself a little in the film’s final third. Edgar Wright has created a stylishly inventive pyschological horror thriller, reminds us before you follow your dream look deep down at the underbelly before you go.
Horror, Thriller | UK, 2021 | 15 | Blu-ray, DVD, Digital | Universal Pictures | Dir.Edgar Wright | Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Terrence Stamp, Rita Tushingham