Stylish, sexy, and visually stunning, Last Night In Soho’s plot sadly falls apart at the seams. Still, fans of psychological thrillers will find the mystery intriguing, and Thomasin McKenzie’s turn as a wide-eyed, troubled ingenue is charming and endearing.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn’t heard of Last Night in Soho – Edgar Wright’s latest feature film starring Thomasin Mackenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. Publicity got off to a running start bright and early (the first trailer was released in Spring) and it’s been going at full speed ever since.
Wright is known for going heavy on popular music in his projects (2017’s Baby Driver was heavily marketed based on the soundtrack alone) and Soho is no exception. Fans of ’60s tunes will immediately fall in love from the very first scene when McKenzie’s character Eloise “Ellie” Turner is revealed as a modern-day girl with her heart stuck firmly in the decade of lava lamps, gogo boots, and Beatlemania. Sadly, Eloise is haunted by a heartbreaking past – something that will follow her for better or for worse.
Mild spoilers ahead
With a runtime of around two hours, the first half of Soho is a 10/10. We follow young Eloise on her trip from the quiet British countryside to attend university in the big city, where she struggles to fit in with the other fashion students. In her attempts to cope with her new surroundings, she finds herself stuck in a psychedelic, sexy time warp; one that starts as a dream but eventually reveals itself to be a full-fledged nightmare.
What follows is seemingly a mind-bending descent into madness. Unfortunately, the stylish and unique story resorts to comical scares and old horror tropes that feel too cheap for the dark fantasy which starts with such promise. The second act also seems to drag on longer than it should, and condensing the story down to 90 minutes could have kept the film from becoming too convoluted. Since the second half suffers from pacing issues, once the conclusion finally comes around it feels hollow and slightly unsatisfying.
While the film is far from perfect – it shines in many ways that make up for the missteps. Anya Talyor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie are intoxicating and the juxtaposition between their two characters is simply electric, especially when paired with a well-cast Matt Smith. Synovve Karlsen, Diana Rigg, and Michael Ajao hold their own as parts of the supporting cast. But overall, the film is McKenzie’s vehicle, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of this rising star in the future.
Last Night In Soho wasn’t what I expected, and some second-act issues keep the thriller from being a slam dunk. Still, endearing performances by the film’s stars as well as stunning aesthetics make this terrifying trip through time one worth taking.