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Last Night in Soho – Dreamgirls

MOVIE REVIEW – In Edgar Wright‘s Last Night in Soho horror film, with its sumptuous visuals and surprising twists and turns, two young women from different eras form a strange spiritual bond that soon turns from a romantic dream that stretches back into the past into a nightmare.

 

 

A city’s history – both good and bad times – seeps into its architecture as a “stain”, explains one of the characters in Edgar Wright’s very entertaining horror thriller. Events of the past leave a kind of ‘memory trace’ that those who are sufficiently attuned can pick up years later.

 

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Ellie sees the past

 

One unique gift that allows her to perceive these thin threads between the present and the past is Ellie (Thomasin Harcourt Mckenzie), an aspiring fashion designer from rural Cornwall. At first, she is thrilled when she discovers that in her Fitzrovia sublet, she can connect with the events of the mid-sixties in Soho and, even more so, with a strange and gorgeous girl, Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is aspiring to singing glory.

But then things take a darker turn – London does have a dark past after all – and the retro ‘glamour’ of the 60s is soon replaced by the ‘imprint’ of London’s prostitution and underworld and the horrors that go with it. The Last Night in Soho tells this particular ghost and horror story, with a highly atmospheric visual style and plenty of chills.

 

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Dark London

 

The history of a city, especially a city like London, is present elsewhere – in the culture it creates, the music it makes, the films it makes, and the headlines it makes. And Wright throws everything into these vividly evoked representations of Soho’s past and present. The film was actually shot in London, and it shows. Cultural references such as the huge movie poster for the James Bond movie, Fireball, the posters for Sweet Charity and Breakfast At Tiffany’s create a massive atmosphere. The general public is there, not for such delicacies, but for, among other things, the eerily horror atmosphere reminiscent of Stephen King’s best works, the great soundtrack and the late Diana Rigg’s superb supporting performance.

 

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Women… women everywhere

 

Of all Wright’s films to date, this is the one with the most women in it, and it’s a good thing for this film. 60s Rita Tushingham joins Rigg in a supporting role as Eloise’s ever-worried grandmother. Synnøve Karlsen is also great as Jocasta, the nasty fashion student girl who is always trying to get in Ellie’s way.

However, the film is driven by the well-matched lead pair: Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie, the 60s siren who soon finds that the grey-faced men of Soho have little to do with her dreams of singing stardom (they want to shag her instead), and Harcourt McKenzie as the fragile little country girl who, thanks to her psychic powers, watches Sandie’s downfall up close and then is haunted by the ghosts of Sandie’s past with increasing aggression. Ultimately, the story’s villain is not necessarily the one with the blood on his hands, but the toxic macho misogyny and womanizing that is as commonplace in 1960s Soho as the smart suits and sewer rats.

 

 

Fascinating visual world

 

Visually, this is perhaps Wright’s most interesting film to date. While all of his movies have a distinct visual style, The Last Night in Soho departs from this, drawing intense bright colours and theatrical sets of the Italian Giallo horror sub-genre, giving the films a dreamlike quality. Wright pays homage to the king of Giallo himself, Dario Argento, and borrows bold visual elements from his films such as Deep Red and Suspiria (the use of knives as mirrors, the insistence on the colour red). But he doesn’t just use visual elements from one genre: he also pays homage to noir, notably Roman Polanski’s psychological thriller Repulsion, which is also the story of a woman who experiences terrifying hallucinations rooted in her fear of men.

Wright’s screenplay, co-written with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, acts as a commentary on nostalgia. The story highlights both the allure and the danger of pondering the past, warning that dreams are not always as pretty as they seem. It’s a thematic thread familiar from elsewhere but filtered through Wright’s lens, this narrative works engagingly.

Last Night in Soho also deals with serious issues, including mental illness and abuse. How much one enjoys the film may depend on how one feels about the portrayal of these issues, but Wright and Wilson-Cairns largely handle these topics with due care and sensitivity.

Now we know that Edgar Wright’s film has unfortunately failed in the cinemas, and undeservedly so because The Last Night in Soho is one of the best films of this year, but it is also one of the most outstanding horror films in recent years. If Stephen King had written the original, this would be one of his best adaptations.

-BadSector-

MOVIE REVIEW - In Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho horror film, with its sumptuous visuals and surprising twists and turns, two young women from different eras form a strange spiritual bond that soon turns from a romantic dream that stretches back into the past into a nightmare.     A city's history - both good and bad times - seeps into its architecture as a "stain", explains one of the characters in Edgar Wright's very entertaining horror thriller. Events of the past leave a kind of 'memory trace' that those who are sufficiently attuned can pick up years later.…
Now we know that Edgar Wright's film has unfortunately failed in the cinemas, and undeservedly so because The Last Night in Soho is one of the best films of this year, but it is also one of the most outstanding horror films in recent years. If Stephen King had written the original, this would be one of his best adaptations.

Last Night in Soho

Directing - 8.5
Actors - 8.6
Story - 8.2
Visuals - 9.2
Ambience - 9.1

8.7

EXCELLENT

Now we know that Edgar Wright's film has unfortunately failed in the cinemas, and undeservedly so because The Last Night in Soho is one of the best films of this year, but it is also one of the most outstanding horror films in recent years. If Stephen King had written the original, this would be one of his best adaptations.

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