Wow, Misogyny is Bad?
By Sadira Sittampalam
Edgar Wright is back with Last Night in Soho, this time diving into the psychological horror genre, which is quite different from the director's usual repertoire. However, Wright has been a vocal fan of horror for a very long time and it seemed almost inevitable that he would end up making one of his own. This film follows a young girl, Eloise, who is passionate about fashion design, and moves to London from her small town to join a fashion school.
Here, she is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s, where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer, Sandie. While there was a lot of potential from this film, having a really entertaining first half, the film does fall apart by the second, as while Wright does know what he’s doing as a director, it was not enough to save the rather sub-par script.
Wright is a director with a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of film and this really does shine through in all of his movies. He never fails to insert some of the best references and homages to classic films. However, in this movie, this might have been his downfall. It's not to say that this movie was in any way badly made, but at times I thought that it didn’t really have a clear idea of what type of horror it wanted to portray.
It was just a mishmash of a lot of different types of horror ideas, and while it was all successfully depicted, I didn’t see a clear enough vision for it to make sense in the scope of the movie. None of it felt like it had any real impact, which is likely more the fault of the rather lacking script.
Even in regards to the script, while there seemed to be so much potential for what could happen with the story, and so many elements of each character built up in this mysterious way, it ended up being rather lacklustre and disappointing as nothing really came together in a meaningful way.
Even the main twists and turns that the movie made a really good show of, was quite obvious and predictable from the beginning and was therefore pretty underwhelming. I was also genuinely disappointed with the whole feminist angle of this film, as it was almost entirely unsubtle and quite bland. The story was just pretty simple, which is something I felt about Baby Driver’s story as well.
However, this was still a fun movie for me to watch as the quality of the production was just so good. I loved the cinematography and how Wright managed to show off the overwhelming nature of London compared to the dreary and simple town that Eloise came from. The lighting was a standout, and there were a number of creative ways that Wright told the story through these types of visuals. Moreover the costumes were all just gorgeous, with a great mix of modern and vintage looks that all came to life in the story as well. The soundtrack was also very inspired, but you can’t expect anything less from Wright.
The three main performances in the movie were also a standout and were a very big factor in keeping my interest in this movie. Thomasin McKenzie nailed the naturalistic acting in this, fully engaging me in the story despite all of the unreal horror elements. Anya Taylor Joy is also always a marvel to behold on screen, oozing power but also maintaining this type of lost kitten feeling in the midst of all that. Matt Smith was also a really powerful performer and blew me away with his dynamic performance that happened to be so wilfully charming.
I did have certain issues with some of the special effects though, as the blank-faced men were just not very scary. It looked very fake for some reason and as someone who fell for basically every jump scare in this movie, it is pretty sad that I didn’t find the main horror element frightening. Moreover, while I do get the sentiment he was going for with the whole ‘beware of romanticising the past’, this story really didn’t communicate that properly, when it seemed like such a good starting point to have.
Overall, this was a pretty disappointing movie, mostly because you’d expect better from a director as good as Wright. I don’t regret watching this film, but I’d probably never watch it again. I’d rather rewatch Hot Fuzz for the 80th time. So see this if you like the actors or want to see some creative filmmaking. Skip it if you like complex stories with satisfying endings.