October 26, 2021

GENRE | Edgar Wright Spends 'Last Night in Soho'

"This is the closest most people ever get to their dreams."
Anya Taylor-Joy Edgar Wright | Last Night in Soho
Focus Features / Film4
Baby Driver director Edgar Wright takes a stab at straightforward psychological horror with his latest genre-bending cinematic effort, Last Night in Soho. His vision of the swinging 1960s London mod scene is bursting with allusions to Italian giallo thrillers (think Suspiria) for a stylish but hollow throwback featuring young women haunted by their pasts.

Starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy as Elloise and Sandie, a mousy fashion designer from the countryside and her vision of an aspiring singer from the sixties, we're dropped into parallel timelines (à la Midnight in Paris) as Wright builds up a sense of glamorous slasher thrills before slowly revealing how our two heroines, living some fifty years apart, are mysteriously connected through their shared supernatural trauma.

Wright's script, co-written with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, sets up tons of eerie genre elements as Ellie relocates from Cornwall to South London with a strong "moving to the big city" vibe. South Korean cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung's colourful visuals cement Soho's striking horror influences gorgeously while also leaving behind the trademark hyperactive editing Wright helped popularize.

What becomes clear is Wright's tricky problem with endings and a possible resistance to ending off a more straightforward narrative on his own. Looking back at his filmography, he thrives through collaboration, genre limitations, and adapting existing material. Soho also sorely misses his sense of comedic timing and an ability to pay off sequences set up throughout a film's deliberate rising action.

Last Night in Soho starts to crumble when it reveals exactly what the uneven film really is or is trying to be. Wright's initial concept and filmmaking create such an intriguing first half. However, the last act and horror-filled climax tumble into less interesting thriller territory. McKenzie's star power and Taylor-Joy's dynamic presence carry the film, but the detours into nostalgic time-travel hurt the audience's ability to relate to unknowable characters.

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