By Benjamin Slack (Chesterton, IN)
Last Night in Soho comes to us from the director of the 2017 action film Baby Driver, Edger Wright. It stars Thomason McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), Anya Taylor-Joy (Eastrail 177 Trilogy), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Terence Stamp (Superman and Superman II), and Bond girl Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). It is a psychological thriller, horror, and drama film with some dark comedy and tells the story of a young aspiring girl named Eloise “Ellie” Turner (played by McKenzie) who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. When she moves to current day London, she begins to have strange dreams where she sees and experiences the night life of a girl named Sandy from the 1960s (played by Taylor-Joy). At first she loves them and has fun, but when the dreams become wilder and more frightening, Ellie begins to descend into possible madness and is determined to find out what happened to her “friend” after she sees a horrific scene.
First off, this movie was nothing like what I thought it was going to be when I watched it. From the trailer it looked like it was going to be a bit of a murder and catch the killer movie with a supernatural twist to it but that was not it at all. The story we get is a much darker and a bit of a trippy story that has elements that remind me of Disney’s thirteen’s animated feature Alice in Wonderland and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The visual effects and way the camera moves while various characters are yelling dialogue makes it feel like I’m watching the end of the Disney classic while Ellie’s mind and mood going in circles seems familiar to what was happening to James Stewart’s character in the Hitchcock film from 1958.
The visual effects and flashing lights in this movie are absolutely insane. The scenes in the library and the murder show off that Edger Wright is a great filmmaker and how good his camera people are. The camera movements and creepy characters really make you cringe in your seat and you feel the suspense that Ellie is going through. If you are sensitive to bright lights, then be careful watching a particular scene in this movie that is about halfway through it.
Other shots in this movie make you feel like you’re in it. Wright does a few of what seem to be one take shots where we have Sandy doing something, like dancing with Jack (played by Smith), then all of a sudden the camera pans to cover her for not even a second, then Ellie is in the shot with him copying the exact movements as the former. Other scenes like when Sandy is with someone and her reflection is Ellie while the reflection of the person she’s with remains themselves is amazing as well.
The cast was a pleasure to the film too. The two leading ladies are our show here and don’t disappoint. Thomason McKenzie really does make the audience feel like she is going insane. I’m sure we’ll see her in films in the future. Anya Taylor-Joy shows a side in her I didn’t think she had or could pull off. The only thing is I’m having trouble with her English accent. It’s not as bad as Dick Van Dyke’s in Mary Poppins but it’s not that good either. Matt Smith does okay as the stereotypical creep. The second he’s on screen you know he’s bad news by just the way he performs with his body language.
Like Wright’s other famous movie, Baby Driver, this movie had an impressive soundtrack. It contains music from England that was released around the early to mid 1960s, and who doesn’t enjoy some of that music? Even if one doesn’t, it puts you in the zone when the scenes play out, especially that first dream sequence. Anya Taylor-Joy sings a couple songs here which proves that she can act good as well as sing good too.
The only trouble this movie has is its dialogue. The writing is done well but the way the lines are delivered sometimes is just hard to either keep up or even understand. This is coming from an American and maybe I’m wrong about this but it’s what I feel. It doesn’t take much from the plot, you still know what’s going on on screen, but I would like to keep up and understand the lines so I know every detail in case something comes up again.
Deep down this movie is more than just a typical creepy thriller story. Not only does it show us that our dreams could be more than we think, but it also shows us what it might’ve been like for some females in the swinging sixties in the city. Beauty did not need a resume in that time and if you were a pretty girl, there was a chance you could be forced to do some stuff that wasn’t your plan. It’s scary to think about because this probably wasn’t happening in just London around this time. It might be hard to watch some scenes of this movie so this is a heads up.
All in all, Last Night in Soho is a step forward for Edger Wright as a director. It might not be as good as Baby Driver but it is close enough to be considered good. It keeps you on the edge of your seat from about the half hour point to the rest of the movie. The multiple twists come as shocking as an M. Night Shyamalan film would and the jump scares are enough to make you whisper your shock. It has likable characters that you want to see get what they deserve, whether it’s good or bad. The actors are great. They just deliver some confusing and rough dialogue sometimes. It’s not the catch the thief story you think it is in the trailer. It’s a drama turned trippy thriller turned horror that will leave you shocked and satisfied.