Film Review: ‘Last Night In Soho’
by Ben Martin
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always enjoyed writer/director Edgar Wright’s work. While I’ve never found any of his films to be perfect, they are always entertaining. However, Wright’s previous films have not been all that original. No doubt, the filmmaker certainly proved they had a cinematic voice, but it always seemed to be echoing something else, be it through genre, adaptation, or homage, and it was all very well done. Alas, Wright’s filmography up to this point left me feeling like I’d not yet seen his full potential when it comes to originality.
Well, that all changed with his latest effort, Last Night In Soho. This fantasy-thriller with horror overtones is one of the more original films you’re likely to see this year. So much so that even the marketing for the film retained its mystery. Until I let Last Night In Soho play out on-screen, I only had the vaguest of ideas of what this movie was about. I found this quality to be a rare and welcomed treat in an age where movie marketing spoils damn near spoils everything about a flick.
Based on an original screenplay by Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Penny Dreadful, 1917), Last Night In Soho follows an exceptionally talented fashion design student named Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie). This young lady is fascinated by the 1960s, specifically London during that time, to the point where the period greatly influences her designs. Luckily for Eloise, her dreams are one step closer to becoming true after she’s accepted to a design school in Soho, London. A place that was glamorous in the ’60s but is now a lot more dangerous.
Upon finally finding her footing in Soho, Eloise’s other talent begins to shine. See, she has a connection to the afterlife as well as the past through visions. Eloise begins to experience dreams and visions of a couple from the 1960s- Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Jack (Matt Smith). At first, Eloise finds these surreal experiences to be a fun escape from real life. Before long, though, her nightly run-ins with the swinging 60s couple take a dark turn that bleeds into Eliose’s reality!
As I mentioned earlier, Wright likes to make clever references in his films. But, unlike his previous work, these cinematic pulls do not overshadow Last Night In Soho itself. Now, if you’re a hardcore horror fan, you’ll see inspiration being drawn from the Italian master of horror, Dario Argento (Deep Red). This is fitting because the movie in review is Wright’s particular take on the Giallo murder mystery sub-genre that Argento innovated in the 1970s. Thus, the film in review is very much an experience regarding its visuals, vibes, and overall tone. Many scenes in this film feel like traditional Giallo sequences on psychedelic trips. Of course, this trippy quality is bolstered by all the design aspects of the film, which are impeccable.
Beyond being an experience, though, Last Night In Soho achieves something many Giallo movies don’t. To my surprise, this movie has a fantastic cast and murder mystery narrative that are just as impressive as its visuals. Often, I’ve found that the Italian horror flicks that inspired this one can lack such attributes. Having such quality on all levels lends to this movie being an even more immersive picture. Aside from being an experience, this movie also manages to have something on its mind.
In my estimation, Last Night In Soho could be viewed as an allegory for the #MeToo movement. But, whereas most allegorical tales these days bash us over the head with their messaging, the movie in review nails its point with the first swing. In other words, the allegory at play does not weigh down the narrative itself. Imagine someone putting the art and entertainment of film before the message! One thing is for sure, though, no matter how much or little you want to read into it, Last Night In Soho is one of the better, more original films to come out this year. And aside from having some occasional pacing issues, I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.
Last Night In Soho is now playing exclusively in theaters!