GUEST: ‘Last Night in Soho’: a thrilling escape into an alluring past


Our Guest film reviews are a collaboration with Billy Kaskay’s Ethics and Culture in Film elective.


Edgar Wright finally debuted his long-awaited horror film, “Last Night in Soho”, in late October, and it’s a must see for any fans of the genre. Wright, who is an accredited director with movies such as “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), “Hot Fuzz” (2007), “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010) and “Baby Driver” (2017) under his belt, now makes his attempt at the horror genre.

Though his films usually have action-intensive, fun plots with darker themes, “Last Night in Soho” pulls no punches with its intense storytelling and gripping characters. Starring the brilliant Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise and Anya Taylor-Joy as the mysterious Sandy, “Last Night in Soho” gives audiences stunning visuals, a curious mystery and sensational thrills in an eventful 116 minutes. The movie follows fashion student, Eloise, as she moves to the big city and finds more than she bargained for when she starts to dream of Sandy, a hopeful, seductive young woman set on becoming a singer, in the vibrant Soho of the 60s. “Last Night in Soho” is not only entertaining, but also leaves viewers with the persevering theme of nostalgia, yet it’s not without its shortcomings.

Eloise, our protagonist, is a girl from a small town and a broken family; she lives with her grandmother, as her mother committed suicide due to mental illness, a trait passed to Eloise. To her excitement, Eloise is accepted into a London school for fashion design, something she’s already quite skilled at, having made some of her own clothes. Though, when Eloise arrives, she doesn’t receive a very warm welcome; compared to the other girls in her dorm and class, she’s quite timid, not enjoying their company.

Deciding she can’t stay in her dorm, she moves off campus to a building owned by one Miss Collins, an elderly woman with a room to spare. Loving the room, and wanting nothing to do with her old dorm, Eloise swiftly moves into Miss Collins’s apartment. That night, Eloise dreams of Sandy, and her exotic night in the Soho 60s. The next night, Eloise eagerly goes to sleep early to once again dream of Sandy, but she finds her in a much worse scenario than the night before. As the past and present come together, Eloise must uncover the hidden truths of Soho.

To describe this film in a word: beautiful. The contrast between the past and present distinctly defines the exquisite difference of the two eras; the colorful, vibrant signs of the 60s and the dull — almost unappealing — present make it easy for you, just like Eloise, to get stolen by the time. All actors play their characters marvelously. McKenzie portrays the shy, reserved Eloise delightfully, truly making you feel some of her pain and struggle. Taylor-Joy’s role as Sandy couldn’t have been the same without her; the promiscuous character truly comes to life through her talent. Both actors’ efforts truly pay off in the culmination of “Last Night in Soho”.

The story, in and of itself, is done gracefully; its pacing, characterization and presentation of scenes are all done quite well. The twist was one particular aspect of the film that lessened it. Without spoiling the movie, the big twist of the climax, the part that’s supposed to show all the cards and truly engage you, fell short. Though maybe not to all audiences, it was obvious; it was easily identifiable and the climax provided no shock because of that. That, however, was the only qualm to this exciting story.

“Last Night in Soho”, though it has its flaws, and not being Wright’s best work, is, without a doubt, worth your patience, money and time. It has all the intrigue of “Baby Driver” and the surprise of “The World’s End”. Wright’s first attempt at horror is an absolute banger, and if you have a chance to see this movie, take it. ★★★★☆