LAST NIGHT IN SOHO Review
Edgar Wright is not a director to be locked in by one genre. Starting with the first zom-rom-com in Shaun of the Dead, Wright has gone on to buddy-cop comedies, alien invasions, video game adaptations and crime/heist movies. All have had a comedic or upbeating tone to them though. Which is why his latest entry is his most unique, and potentially best.
Last Night in Soho follows Eloise (Thomasin Mackenzie), a fashion student who moves to London to attend fashion school. There, Eloise moves into a loft where she dreams of being an aspiring actress (Anya Taylor-Joy) in 1960s London. Things turn when dreams start bleeding with reality and Eloise witnesses something horrifying.
Comedy and horror share a link in that they follow a similar structure; set-up and pay off. Bad comedy and bad horror comes from either a lazy set-up or bad pay off. Edgar Wright has an attention for every detail of his writing and filmmaking that make his films such beloved modern classics. Here is no exception with a constant sense of dread building as the film escalates and Eloise's reality starts to unravel. There are some stark images that Wright paints and more effective jump scares here than in the majority of horror films from the past decade.
As a film fan first and filmmaker second, Wright knows where to take the right inspirations with Dario Argento, Mario Brava and the giallo genre having a clear influence on the film's aesthetic and tone. Eloise's room at night is drenched in the neon-signs outside her window and when she is transported to the 60s, there is all the glitz and glam that she imagines there to be, but the dark underbelly creeping through.
Beyond the crafting of the suspense and supernatural thrills, there is a level of directing that is so breathtaking you double-take at what you've witnessed. One scene in particular is Eloise's first time in the 60s, which sees her shifting in and out of scene with Taylor-Joy's Sandy. Simple 'cowboy switches' and reflected sets are all that is need to convince the audience of this out of body experience.
Wright's directing skills are complemented by two stellar performances from Thomasin Mackenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. Mackenzie starts doe-eyed and sensitive to the big city life she enters, making her descent into maddness making her sympathetic. Taylor-Joy continues to deliver as an actor, her inital appearance being playful and carefree before her story becomes tragic and you see the shame behind her eyes.
There is a feminist perspective to this story, which amends Wright's previous films which lack female characters with substance. Joined by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the two lead character's story feels akin to characters in Gone Girl or recently Promising Young Woman. While the character's are well written, the plot itself lags towards the end and other character choices are jarring and feel only necessary for the plot's momentum, in particular Terence Stamps' mysteryious gentleman.
Last Night in Soho is Wright's first feel blown thriller-horror movie and delivers a good case for him to stay there. Wright's dedication to filmmaking, combined with two excellent performances and a new writing partner make this one of his best, and easily the best outside of his Cornetto Trilogy.