Do you ever wish you could travel back into the past to get a glimpse of another era? In Last Night in Soho, Edgar Wright whisks audiences away into London’s swinging sixties through upbeat 60s music, glamorous costume design, and captivating cinematography.
Last Night in Soho follows Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie), a fashion student infatuated with London life in the 60s. After moving into a bedsit owned by Ms Collins (Diana Rigg), she finds herself caught up in the life of Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), an aspiring singer in the 60s who she watches as well as embodies in her dreams. At first, Ellie is mesmerised by Sandie’s glamorous lifestyle and even changes her hair and style to resemble Sandie. However, as Ellie delves deeper into the past, she learns the sinister truth hidden in Soho’s history and the violence that Sandie experiences at the hands of her abusers.
Parallels are drawn between the past and the present through these two characters as both Sandie and Ellie have come to London with a dream. The film’s interesting use of reflections exhibited throughout the film emphasises their likeness. Unfortunately, the dream of fame and success that’s sold to Sandie soon becomes a nightmare as she’s forced into a life of exploitation and is later murdered, meanwhile, Ellie’s mental stability is questioned. The past seeps into the present day as Ellie seeks to solve Sandie’s murder that took place decades ago. Last Night in Soho explores the hardships and dangers of London life; a life that Ellie’s own mother could not handle. The repetition of the line “London can be a lot,” highlights how it may be far from one’s expectations, surprisingly, even Ellie’s perception of Sandie proves to be wrong.
There are a few classic horror elements shown through the distorted faces of the ghosts and the giallo-inspired murder scenes as Wright is more concerned with the psychological aspects of horror. He blurs the line between reality and imagination making audiences question whether Ellie’s losing her grip on reality, or if the ghosts that haunt her are more than just the stuff of nightmares. Wright makes us re-evaluate what horror is by exploring the danger of holding onto the past and the fear of losing our sense of self. He also attempts to address the issue of violence against women, conveying how we don’t need ghosts to evoke a sense of fear as there are already real, tangible threats in our everyday lives.
Whilst Last Night in Soho featured some chilling moments and twists, there were plot holes, a lack of character development rounded off with an unclear message. Questions surrounding Ellie’s supernatural abilities remain unanswered which are aspects that could’ve provided the storyline with more depth. Moreover, the death of Ellie’s mother is mentioned several times throughout the film as Ellie repeatedly sees her ghost, and yet, Wright fails to provide further explanation on the matter. The ending in particular felt rushed and Sandie’s portrayal is made redundant which takes away from the abuse she endured, and the oppression experienced by women in the 60s as well as the present day.
Last Night in Soho is currently available to stream on Netflix.