Edgar Wright’s big-screen career has long flirted with horror, the director throwing zombies, murderous cults and alien invasions at his often-hapless protagonists to great comedic effect. Last Night in Soho might be the first of his films to engage so openly with the horror genre though. If his previous works dipped their toe into the horror pool, this film positively swims in it, while losing none of the customary style, choice needle-drops or whip-smart editing we’ve come to expect from the cinephile director. Working with Scottish screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917), Wright has once again given us a dizzyingly stylish film, the alluring, glitzy surface of ‘60s London hiding a sleazy, sordid underbelly.
Eloise (_Jojo Rabbit_’s Thomasin McKenzie) is a young, wide-eyed fashion student in modern-day London, the overwhelming bright lights of the big city a far cry from her Cornwall upbringing. She’s still grieving over a traumatic incident in her past, and is obsessed with all things 1960s. When she sleeps, the swinging ‘60s become a literal escape for Eloise as she finds herself in the body of cool, glamorous singer Sandy, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit, The VVitch). At first, Eloise is enraptured, her nocturnal jaunts round ‘60s London a dream (literally) come true, but Eloise soon begins to get the sense that Sandy is headed for an unpleasantly violent end.
McKenzie and Taylor-Joy (who really sings in the film – is there anything she can’t do?) are wonderful in their roles, the former trying in the present day to protect the latter in the past, and as the barriers between the two time periods grow thinner, the film tilts deliriously into full-horror mode.
With a cast of recognisable faces, including Matt Smith and icons of the era Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg in her final film role, Wright’s film is a pop culture delight; a world where music, fashion and film collide to thrilling, sensational effect.
Film 4, NBC Universal