Spoilers for Last Night in Soho below.
When the movie was over, when the lights in the room turned on, I slowly left the cinema and went into my car. I sat there for a while, even when I knew I only had nine minutes to leave the parking lot. This movie left me exhausted, and when it was all over I didn’t know what to think.
The best word to describe all the feelings Last Night in Soho made me feel is overwhelmed. Every emotion I felt I did so to the extreme. I was uncomfortable, I was anxious, I was scared… I was sad. This movie made me feel empty. In the end, it seems the movie had taken from me more than what it had given me. The film left me shaken. I believe I won’t be the only one that felt this way. While this might be good things for a horror movie,, I don’t say all this in a good way.
But before I get into that, I probably should comment on the more technical aspects (what you are probably expecting from a movie review).
I think one of the strongest aspects of this movie is the performances of Thomasin McKenzie (who plays Ellie) and Anya Taylor-Joy (who plays Sandie). Both play their part amazingly and really flesh out the characters. McKenzie in particular does a wonderful job pulling you into the anxiety and madness of her situation. When she has a breakdown, you will probably do so as well. Without the performance of Taylor-Joy and McKenzie, this movie wouldn’t be as strong as it is.
The second strongest aspect of Last Night in Soho has to be its visuals. This is definitely an Edgar Wright movie. The way the movie is shot and edited gives it a unique feel. The use of mirrors especially is wonderful. In addition, the costume design is a huge plus in this movie, it builds up the tone and the atmosphere of each scene in wonderful ways. Another honorable mention that should be made is the soundtrack of the movie, as good as any of the other Wright’s movies.
That all being said, I think it’s time for the deep stuff. The theme of this movie is pretty clear: it’s all about the horrifying world of misogyny and violence against women. This movie discusses and represents this theme in some interesting ways. The visual of ghosts that represent the men that hunted Sandie (and in a way, Ellie as well) gives the viewer a strong visual that will leave them thinking. The “that’s a lovely name” scene is equally powerful. Throughout the first half of the movie, this theme is incredibly well managed, and it makes the audience feel strong emotions that will probably have an effect on them. The thing is that the second part of this movie doesn’t do such a good job, especially the ending.
The final twist (THIS IS YOUR FINAL SPOILER WARNING) that Ms. Collins is actually Sandy, and the fact that she was a serial killer, while narratively well done, undermines a lot of the powerful emotions this movie had been building up, especially when the ghosts that have been such a powerful visual turn into the victims themselves. It all just feels like it falls apart, even when the reactions of Ellie seem to continue the themes previously established.
Narratively and thematically this twist doesn’t do anything for the movie and it just takes away its previous achievements. When the third act is done and the credits are rolling I couldn’t make myself think about the positive aspects of the movie and only could think about all the potential that was lost. If this would have been well handled, Last Night in Soho could have become a powerful movie both visually and in terms of its script. Instead every time I think about this movie I get a little bit angry and disappointed.
I get what Edgar Wright was trying to do, and he does it well in so many ways, but in the end, this effort falls apart by the end. I believe it’s a movie that needs to be discussed and talked about, not because of its achievements, but because of the discussion that it puts on the table about how violence towards women is portrayed in fiction.