Last Night In Soho featured some of my favorite talent. Edgar Wright–who directed Shaun Of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver–directed this film starring Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy. Many were saying Last Night In Soho was Wright’s foray into true horror, but I found that hard to believe. All of his previous films had a certain level of humor that I felt would make out-and-out horror unlikely.
In the end, Last Night In Soho did indeed achieve horror, but not that of the supernatural kind. It instead explored the horrors that can unfold as one chases the allure of stardom.
Before I continue, let me briefly summarize the film’s premise. Thomasin McKenzie played Eloise, a young woman who was able to see her dead mother in mirrors and who loved the 1960s as well as fashion. In fact, she’d been accepted into fashion school in London. After arriving she soon realized dorm life was not for her and promptly moved into a flat. During her first sleep in the flat, she was somehow transported back in time and saw through the eyes of Sandie, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Sandie was trying to become a singer, and in doing so, crossed paths with Jack, played by Matt Smith. Jack was said to be a talent manager. At first, Eloise fell in love with the chemistry shared between Jack and Sandie. They encapsulated everything admirable about the 1960s. That initial sheen quickly wore off, however, as Jack proved to be something unexpected and Sandie followed him in a downward spiral. Eloise became obsessed with them, as well as what happened to them, to the point that she could no longer differentiate between past and present … or perhaps it was the other way around?
As I said, while there are supernatural elements in Last Night In Soho, it was the depravity of people that truly horrified me during this film. Both Sandie and Eloise were pushed to their limits, and you’ll be surprised by the actions taken by both.
Of course, Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy are presently movie stars in every sense of the word. I appreciated the dark journeys they portrayed, but when their characters were initially introduced and all was well … I could have watched them for hours. They both simply oozed charisma, especially when they were at their most charming.
Of course, as you would expect, Edgar Wright flourished when it came to direction. The manner in which he depicted Eloise seeing through Sandie’s eyes was mesmerizing, especially with mirrors and reflections. The music obviously triumphed. Like James Gunn, Wright seems especially talented at choosing just the right songs at just the right moments.
However, the film failed me somewhat in terms of tone. It seemed as though it couldn’t quite settle on whether it was a horror film, a crime drama, or a supernatural mystery. As a result, it didn’t achieve the tonal consistency necessary. Furthermore, I became distracted by the fact that the supernatural “rules” established early in the film were ignored by film’s end. Again, that lack of consistency detracted from my experience.
I must admit, though, that I appreciate Edgar Wright for trying something different. It would be very easy for him to keep making the same movie over and over again, but with Baby Driver and now Last Night In Soho, he continues to push himself. I find that admirable.
I think Last Night In Soho will prove a different kind of experience for each viewer. The supernatural element wasn’t particularly scary, but the very realistic vagaries certain characters endured struck me as quite disturbing. Even with that said, the costumes, the cars, the music, the scenery, and the megawatt movie stars were truly something to behold.