“Last Night in Soho” review: A stylish and dizzying nightmare


Courtesy of Focus Features

Over the years, Edgar Wright has become known for his highly stylized, meticulously edited, and incredibly quirky films. His latest film “Last Night in Soho” is no exception.

Wright has predominantly produced action films up until this point, from “Hot Fuzz” (2007) to “Baby Driver” (2017). Although he made the satirical zombie film “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), “Last Night in Soho” is his first full-on horror movie.

The film utilizes many surreal elements, as main character Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) begins to take on the persona of Anya Taylor-Joy’s Sandy, an aspiring singer living in 1960s London. She begins to experience dreams that become more and more disturbing and eventually invade her waking hours.

The nightmare sequences in the film are some of the most stylized moments, and certainly provide vivid and intense visuals. However, some of these elements feel too over the top and frankly, quite goofy. This may delight some, but may not be appreciated by the average horror fan.

The logic of the story becomes quite confusing as well. For example, the ghouls Ellie encounters during the day are described at some point as ghosts. There is a strong argument to be made that the entirety of the daytime horror sequences exist entirely in Ellie’s mind, because no other characters see these ghouls. At one point, Ellie even mistakes another (fully alive) character for one of them.

Ellie also sees her deceased mother at various points in the movie, which is confusing on a first watch. After much reflection, it seems that the film conveys that Ellie was schizophrenic, although it never quite clarifies what her situation is. This makes the film all the more disorienting when her dreams start to meld with reality.

Even though the story became somewhat muddled and confusing, the experience of watching the film, especially the climax, was absolutely incredible. I was genuinely awestruck with horror in a way that I have not experienced in over a year.

The intensity of the visuals cannot be understated as the vibrant colors radiated off the screen. Wright’s choice to use kaleidoscopic effects in certain moments are astonishing, and I have truly never seen a horror movie that’s as unabashedly vibrant as this.

The film also never condescends to the viewer, as it expects you to pay close attention and keep up with its pace as opposed to passively taking it in, which would surely lead to utter confusion. Although its plot becomes contrived at times, “Last Night in Soho” is entertaining and engaging. It is also relentlessly pleasing to watch due to its inventive cinematic techniques, which Wright pulls off masterfully.

“Last Night in Soho” is now available on demand.

Illustration by Ariel Landry
Illustration by Ariel Landry