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‘Last Night In Soho’: First Thing To Watch

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Edgar Wright directed his first psychological thriller “Last Night in Soho,”  which was released in theaters Oct. 29. 

Known for his fast-paced action films, Wright explores something different in “Last Night in Soho.” His use of color and music alone in the teaser trailer left viewers wanting more, even while knowing little of the plot. The excitement was surely helped by leading actresses Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie. With Taylor-Joy becoming one of the newest it-girls in Hollywood and McKenzie securing more and more roles in box-office films, “Last Night in Soho” instantly became highly-anticipated. 

The film follows Eloise “Ellie” Turner (McKenzie) as she heads to London in pursuit of a fashion design degree. What we first know of Ellie is that she keeps to herself, she has an old soul and she has a sixth sense — seeing ghosts, that is. Ellie’s deceased mother (Aimee Cassettari) makes visits through her mirrors, and her grandmother (Rita Tushingham) is worried for her when she decides to leave for London and live on her own for the first time. It’s clear that this supernatural ability has gotten in the way of her life, and her grandmother knows that this – as well as her naivete –  will not hold up well in the big city. 

Photo Provided by Focus Features / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

In the end, her grandmother is right. Ellie unveils dangers both in the real world and in her dreams as she discovers the twisted and gruesome past of a young woman, Sandy (Taylor-Joy), who lived in the room Ellie is now renting out sometime around the mid-1960s. Each dream proves more dark than the last, and Ellie soon regrets her infatuation with Sandy’s story as it isn’t the blossoming life she — and Sandy — thought it would be.

While the film is a first for Wright in terms of genre, it is no stranger to the vibrant colors that he is known to elect to make a captivating story. The cinematography — from the neon signs to the complimentary colors of the characters’ fashion — plays a bold role. Scenes often play out in a way the audience wouldn’t expect, whether that be a door leading to a different time and place, or a character seeing something that isn’t really there. Wright’s execution of these kinds of scenes are done brilliantly; it was everything the audience could have hoped it to be and more. The teaser trailers promised audiences a mysterious and thrilling suspense that shifted between times. Wright fulfilled that promise as his twisted tale became more and more compelling to the audience and to Ellie.

McKenzie does an amazing job in the role of Ellie, playing the naive yet curious character perfectly. Her light and wispy voice adds to Ellie’s character in a very unique and fitting way since she is supposed to be very quiet, but McKenzie’s pitch and tone also adds to her somewhat disturbed persona. It’s the quietness of her voice that makes the moments when she yells or screams all the more haunting, as it grabs the audience by the ear. Her emotion is real and moving at times, and she is able to take a thriller with a supernatural foundation and give it more depth. 

Photo Provided by Bloody Disgusting

The casting directors deserve a raise, because Taylor-Joy’s embodiment of Sandy is also astonishingly immaculate. Sometimes, certain people just look as though they could fit into a certain decade or era. Taylor-Joy naturally personifies 1960s beauty — her clothes, makeup and hairstyle merely emphasize this look. Her singing is also amazing, and as a personal fan of the song “Downtown,” her rendition of the piece deserves high praise. Sandy is on the opposite side of the same coin as Ellie — she is just as ambitious, but she leads with boldness instead of timidity. 

However, this film is not without faults. While “Last Night in Soho” keeps fans wondering, perhaps it does it a little too much given that the film doesn’t resolve all loose ends, which turn out looking like plot holes. Spoilers ahead: Ellie’s supernatural ability is never quite explained or even shows a connection to which ghosts she’s allowed to see. While it could be understandable that Wright didn’t want to explain her ability in depth, perhaps he could have taken advantage of that by adding on a plot twist like making Sandy her grandmother, and explaining that she can only see the ghosts of family members, therefore explaining her ability. As a result of this, the ending of the film was a bit messy and as it got closer to the end, it didn’t follow as clear of a structure that the rest of the film had. I think that this was the film’s missed opportunity, but the only one. The casting, the styling, the score and all else lived up to the public’s high expectations, but there was room to improve. 

“Last Night in Soho” is most definitely worth the watch, especially for fans of horror with deeper and twisted meanings, particularly ones that make the audience think for a while after finishing it. The story was enthralling, and Wright was the right choice in directing this film. His mise-en-scene in addition to the soundtrack keeps the audience wanting more. 

Chloe Geschwind is an Entertainment intern for the 2021 fall quarter. She can be reached at cgeschwi@uci.edu