In their 5 Bloody Knife review, E. L. King calls Last Night In Soho an equisite experience where beautiful dreams descend into blood-soaked nightmares when you go "Downtown".
Screened at the Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Austin, Texas on 35mm, Last Night In Soho was an equisite experience where beautiful dreams descend into blood-soaked nightmares when you go Downtown. Director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead) delivers a vibrant and stylish neon-horror psycological thriller that's delightfully terrifying. Wright and cinematographer Jeong Jeong-hun seemlessly tether the 1960s and modern era together with an atmospheric glow resembling giallo films like Dario Argento's Suspira (1977) or Mario Bava's The Whip and The Body (1971).
Co-written by Edgar Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the film centers on two woman, Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie, Old) a young and bright-eyed fashion designer, enchanted by the music and style of the 1960s who, through her unique gifts encounters the embodiment of her idyllic notions of '60s in aspiring singer, Sandy (Anya-Taylor Joy, The Witch). Ellie soon discovers that 1960s London isn't all she'd imagined as a dark underbelly is revealed through visions of the past that become increasingly sinister causing her psychological distress with frightening consequences.
"I've got this kind of gift. I can see people, places. Things others can't."
This is so much more than a ghost story, supernatural horror or psychological thriller. It is certainly all of those things and may take some inspiration from Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965). This is the first time that Wright has directed a film with female characters central to the narrative. Ellie is precocious, naive and blanketed by a layer of trauma from an early age that may be why she escapes as a coping mechanism from the noise of modern London. An outcast in her dorm and the target of reticule by her roommate Jocasta (Synnove Karlsen), she leaves renting a room on Goodge Street.
In her room at the top of the stairs, Ellie drifts to sleep while Cilla Black's "You're My World" plays on her vinyl record player and is transported to 1965 in Leicester Square. The song leads her through London to Cilla Black herself performing the tune in a dance and dining hall where we meet Sandie for the first time, a vibrant and intoxicating flower, thanks costume designers Odile Dicks-Mireaux and Alex Watherston. Wright's selection of iconic '60s tunes creatures a deeply immersive experience that had me feeling as if I was by Ellie's side.
Ellie begins to transform herself into her idol, Sandy, but as she discovers the darker truths of the past, she begins to drastically unravel, driven to a madness she can't seem to escape. Her reality becomes a waking nightmare of distorted ghostly figures. The once comforting pop-music of the '60s drums against terrifying visions. Wright continually channels giallo films in Last Night In Soho. As a fan of the genre, it suited me, but the film is clearly making a point about the exploitation of women and the dangers of romanticizing the past.
Last Night In Soho is now playing in theatres. Wright also curated his own list of 60 songs from the '60s that inspired him while creating the film which you can listen to here on Spotify.