"Last Night in Soho" stars Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Michael Ajao, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp. Released on October 29, 2021, the film is about a young woman who mysteriously winds up in the 1960s.
The film was directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed films such as "A Fistful of Fingers", "Shaun of the Dead", "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World", and "Baby Driver". Halloween is once again upon us, which means it's time to inject some more frights into our veins. What better way to do that than with something more original than "Paranormal Activity 15"? After his successful attempts with the action and comedy genres, Edgar Wright is now tapping into his dark side with a psychological horror film that takes the time-traveling element in a unique direction. It's no surprise that I was curious about this one because of this strange concept. More importantly, I was interested in seeing what Wright could do with the horror genre, especially since his previous films were astoundingly well-directed in my eyes. His kinetic style, arresting storytelling, and editing choices made the likes of "Scott Pilgrim" and "Baby Driver" some of the most remarkable film experiences I've witnessed on the screen. Was he able to do the same with "Last Night in Soho"? Let's travel back to the 60s and find out.
The story follows Eloise "Ellie" Turner (McKenzie), a young woman who travels to London to become a fashion designer. While staying at a motel, Ellie finds herself mysteriously transported back in time to the 1960s. There, she witnesses the life of Sandie (Taylor-Joy), a blonde woman who dreams about becoming a singer and starts a romantic relationship with her manager Jack (Smith). Her vision slowly becomes a hellish nightmare when both past and present begin to fall apart. It's up to Ellie to set things right and solve the mystery involving a murder and a mysterious silver-haired gentleman (Stamp). This is another film that could've come straight out of a Twilight Zone episode based on the plot alone. It's got time travel, ghosts, a 60s soundtrack, and a murder mystery that may leave Sherlock Holmes baffled. These things alone do sound crazy when mixing them together, which is perfect for Wright to handle since he's done previous works with absurd ideas. While some ideas in "Last Night in Soho" may not work 100 percent, it delivered a wild and glossy trip that blends a fairy tale dream with a darkly atmospheric night terror. It did take a while to get things all heated up, especially in the first act, and once that happened, it never lets up until the very end. Seriously, the second half of the film was absolutely nuts. Despite his script falling short of how it portrays its subject matter, Edgar Wright has once again proven himself to be one of the finest and ambitious filmmakers working in Hollywood today. His visionary craftsmanship in the production design and lighting resembled something that came out of a painting. A painting that reflects the neon-lighted London Town from the 60s. It also showed that Wright was never afraid to let himself loose with his creative style, as seen in the film's second half. "Last Night in Soho" also proved to be a stunning showcase for the two main leads, McKenzie and Taylor-Joy. McKenzie managed to make herself known once again thanks to her astonishing performance as Ellie. Taylor-Joy was also able to deliver a performance that's both dazzling and unnerving, and yes, I thought the actress's singing voice was pretty good. Who knew she had some great lungs? The supporting cast was also good, including Michael Ajao as John and Terrence Stamp as the mysterious gentleman. The film did feature the final appearances of Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan, who both sadly passed away last year after production had wrapped. Rigg played Ms. Collins, Ellie's landlady, while Nolan assumed the role of Sage Barmaid. Both of them made a worthy effort to deliver their last hurrah onscreen, especially Rigg. Now, the only question that remains regarding the film is this: was it scary? Well, it was a little bit terrifying, but not enough to give me nightmares for days. The jump scares in the film were nicely balanced with its creepy imagery compared to the recent horror films that like to give their audiences heart attacks very often. I should know because there was this one scene that actually scared me. Edgar Wright knew how to make the horror elements work for me, but the impact of the film's scares happened to be as minuscule as my knowledge of fashion.
Overall, "Last Night in Soho" is a flashy and nightmarish trip to the 60s that's far from frightening but compensated with its absurd attractiveness. Unfortunately, compared to Wright's other brilliant works like "Scott Pilgrim", "Shaun of the Dead", and even "Baby Driver", this film lacked a particular essence to make its peculiar vision more unique. This was mainly due to the screenplay, which had some narrative choices that weren't as thought-provoking as its themes. Nonetheless, it's a decent experience that's filled with creepiness and style. This is another solid win for Edgar Wright and the horror genre thanks to its cast, Wright's direction, production design, and effective use of genre elements. I would definitely recommend this one to those who enjoy the filmmaker's other works and everything that's 60s related.