Last Night in Soho Is a Fantastic Subgenre Mashup

Thomasin McKenzie stars as Eloise and Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

As much as I love horror filmmakers like James Wan, Mike Flanagan, and Guillermo del Toro, it’s always great to see non-horror directors try their hand at the genre. They often come at it from different perspectives than we’re used to, and that’s why I was really excited for Last Night in Soho. Edgar Wright is one of the most respected filmmakers in the world today, but for the most part, he’s tended to work in other genres. Granted, his second movie was the zombie classic Shaun of the Dead, but ever since then he’s stayed away from horror films, so he’s not typically seen as “one of us.” But with Last Night in Soho, Wright returns to the genre in spectacular fashion, and he displays a unique style that sets him apart from the Wans, Flanagans, and del Toros of the horror world.

Starring Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Michael Ajao, this film is a wonderful mix of psychological horror, giallo, and supernatural elements, and it’s about a young woman named Ellie who moves to London for fashion school. While there, she’s somehow transported to the 1960s in her dreams, and she experiences the city as it was in that glamorous decade. She follows an aspiring singer named Sandy, and at first, Sandy seems to be living the dream. However, as Ellie’s dreams continue, Sandy’s story takes a turn for the worse. It eventually becomes a living nightmare, and soon enough, this nightmare begins to infect Ellie’s waking hours too.

Admittedly, that might sound a bit vague, but it’s for the best. Last Night in Soho takes a bunch of twists and turns that you won’t see coming, so you should go into it as blind as possible. In fact, it’s even a bit difficult to review this film without giving anything away, but I’m going to do my best to give you a feel for what it’s like without spoiling anything.

A woman dancing with a man looking at her in the background
Matt Smith stars as Jack and Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

I absolutely loved Last Night in Soho, and there were three things about it that really stood out to me. First, we have the acting. Everybody in this movie is good, but Thomasin McKenzie as Ellie and Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandy are on another level. They completely nail every emotion their characters go through so you completely buy into them from the very first time you see them on screen. They pull off everything from strong and confident to scared and timid and they make it look easy. They’re both an absolute joy to watch, so you become attached to Ellie and Sandy almost immediately.

Secondly, let’s talk about the way this film looks. The entire movie is shot beautifully, but when it goes to the 1960s, it becomes just about awe-inspiring. The production design is fantastic, so you feel like the filmmakers traveled back in time to shoot those scenes. Granted, I wasn’t alive in that decade, so maybe it’s not quite as authentic as I thought it was, but to this 1980s baby, it looked absolutely spot-on.

On top of that, there’s also a really gorgeous giallo aesthetic that permeates the entire film. Last Night in Soho isn’t exactly a giallo itself, but it definitely owes a huge debt to the visual style of that venerable subgenre. Most notably, it uses color in a way that’s very reminiscent of Suspiria (not technically a giallo, but it’s close enough), and a bunch of the horror shots look like they could’ve come straight out of a Mario Bava or Dario Argento movie. It’s a real treat for giallo fans, and even if you’re not a huge fan of those films, you’ll still be able to appreciate how beautiful it is in its own right.

Last but not least, we have the horror. I already touched on the giallo aesthetic, but that’s not the only genre element that knocked my socks off. Unfortunately, this is where I can’t get too specific without spoiling the movie, so I’m going to have to be really vague here. I’ll just say that the mix of psychological and supernatural horror works really well, and it pulls off one of the rarest feats in the entire genre: the answers are just as good as the questions.

A woman looking scared
Thomasin McKenzie stars as Eloise in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

See, horror films often have really cool mysteries in their first two acts, but they go downhill very quickly once they pull back the curtain. However, Last Night in Soho is different. It keeps you guessing throughout most of its runtime, and when it finally lets you in on its big secrets, the explanations are completely satisfying. Admittedly, I don’t think everybody is going to like all of the story’s twists and turns, but for me, they’re just about flawless.

All that being said, Last Night in Soho isn’t quite a perfect movie. As much as I enjoyed it, I also noticed two flaws that dragged it down just a little bit. For starters, there’s a very cliché romance between Ellie and one of her classmates, and it flat-out didn’t work for me. It felt like the characters just got together because that’s what male and female leads (or, in this case, the leads in the present-day part of the story) are supposed to do, so I didn’t buy into their relationship at all.

Secondly, and more importantly, the ending fumbles the message a bit. The film is mainly about how horrible it is for men to abuse women and treat them like objects, but in trying to hammer that message home, it overlooks another evil that I think it should’ve denounced as well. Unfortunately, I can’t specify what it is without spoiling the ending, so I can’t really say much more than that. If you watch the movie, I’m sure you’ll know exactly what I mean.

But at the end of the day, those two flaws are far outweighed by everything Last Night in Soho gets right. With great acting, great visuals, and some really fantastic horror, this film is an absolute treat to watch from beginning to end. I loved just about every second of it, and if this sounds like your kind of movie, I think you will too.

Last Night in Soho is out in theaters right now.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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