The best advice you can be told going into “Last Night in Soho” is to go in as blind as possible. Making a conservative effort to avoid the trailers and TV spots at all costs will make for the best viewing experience. Edgar Wright’s newest film arrives just in time for Halloween, and it combines enough thrills in this psychological thriller that will keep audiences engaged throughout. Combine that with clever plot twists and the expected fabulous needle drops and you are left with one of Wright’s finest achievements.
If you did see the trailers, you know the basic premise; Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) is an aspiring fashion designer going to school in London, where she begins transporting herself back to London in the 1960s. While back in time, she finds herself in the shoes of a club singer named Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy) and begins uncovering the mystery of what happened to her in the 1960s. Giving away any more would be too much. If Edgar Wright directing, Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie as the leads, and the needle drops shown in the trailers don’t sell you on “Last Night in Soho,” nothing will. Wright’s style may not be for everyone, but fans of him and of classic horror have the perfect amalgamation of the two.
Unlike some horror films, “Last Night in Soho” has something to say and does so in a well-thought-out manner that is far from preachy. For example, men are portrayed to be gross in the film, but at the same point, the downside of viewing all men like this is just as dangerous as some of the men are portrayed to be.
As the saying should go for horror films; some scares are better than others. One jump scare in “Last Night in Soho” is really clever, but there are also some redundant jump scares that plague so many modern horror films. They’re the ones that are easiest to spot; such as when a character looks down from the mirror and then goes back up and sees something in the mirror, or when you just know a hand is going to pop out from somewhere and grab the character on-screen. The lowest point is the ghosts that Eloise sees; they are CGI ghouls that are reminiscent of the various monsters in “IT” (2017). Another trope found in “Last Night in Soho” is when a character finds themselves overhearing people talking shit behind their back in a bathroom setting.
“Last Night in Soho” is the most unique film that Edgar Wright has made. The way he paints London’s nightlife makes you want to join the world, and seeing it in a crowded theatre will only enhance an already great viewing experience. There are strong performances all around, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to show why she is one of the best young actresses working, while Thomasin McKenzie can finally be a star in a film that will be seen by so many (just watch “Jojo Rabbit” if this film doesn’t fully sell you on her). McKenzie plays Eloise, a wide-eyed girl who is a small fish from a rural town that is attempting to make the leap to a big pond like London, to perfection as she runs into trouble making friends. Synnøve Karlsen also deserves credit as Jocasta, Eloise’s crappy roommate that we have all likely encountered at one point or another.
It’s too early to tell if “Last Night in Soho” is a masterpiece, but it is undoubtedly an engaging film — flaws and all — that is able to cover up plot twists that may be somewhat predictable. In a film that doesn’t engage the viewer quite as well, these types of red herrings are rendered ineffective, but “Last Night in Soho” will keep you interested in the wild goose chase with Eloise, that you are blindsided with the twists. Maybe it goes for the easy “Hollywood ending,” but the rest of the film is so damn good that it makes up for it. It’s a film that requires multiple viewings, but not in a way where it feels like homework. Going in with knowledge of the twists can likely make for an even better second viewing where you can closely watch the brilliant build-up and clues that are missed the first time around. “Last Night in Soho” is the film that was needed this Halloween, and even despite the high expectations the marketing established, it is a relief to say that it delivers on all fronts and is one of the best films of the year.
“Last Night in Soho” will release in theatres on October 29.