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Last Night in Soho


‘…there’s something to admire in the slickness of Wright’s approach, but nothing much at all to like in the stale end-product…’

Edgar Wright started out his career with the hugely entertaining collaborations with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in tv sitcom Spaced, which had a casual magpie’s eye for aping cinema tropes that felt refreshing back in 2001. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz continued that offbeat vibe and were global comedy successes, but follow-up The World’s End didn’t continue the hot streak, and since then, it’s been all downhill via misfires Tin-Tin, Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver. His latest Last Night in Soho is a time-travel thriller that doubles down on themes of sexual violence, and the cheerful good-humour that made Wright a driving force a decade ago is missing. Repeating tropes from The Shining and other horror films worked as pastiche; now, it just feels like Wright has run out of ideas.

Thomasin McKenzie plays Ellie, an art student with a passion for fashion who moves away from the countryside and her worried grandmother (60’s icon Rita Tushingham) to the big smoke of London, where her halls of residence prove a threatening and aggressive environment. Instead, Ellie finds a spare room with sinister landlady Ms Collins (60’s icon Diana Rigg), and finds herself slipping back in time to the 1960’s where she encounters night-club ingénue Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy from The Queen’s Gambit). Identification between the two girls is strong, but Ellie is horrified to find that Sandie was brutally murdered by an exploitative pimp (Matt Smith); could the old man (60’s icon Terence Stamp) who pursues her through the streets of Soho be related to the killer?

Vague spoiler alerts; Sandie isn’t actually dead, but this slight of hand doesn’t work at all since we’ve already seen her throat bloodily cut as she lay in bed, a scene viewed in frenzied detail in Ellie’s experience of the past. The script is by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, but it’s hard to work out what was intended here; Ellie appears to be having a misleading memory of an alternate universe event that didn’t happen within a time-travelling flashback. It’s not the kind of plot-point to hang a 43 million pound movie on; there’s a reason Last Night in Soho has made less than half that sum back to date. Wright smothers gloss over this half-cooked premise with nostalgic cameos, slick musical numbers and tapped-out horror cliches like the armies of blank-faced men who haunt Ellie, but the film’s lavish recreation of cruelty towards women isn’t something to get misty-eyed about.

There’s something to admire in the slickness of Wright’s approach, but nothing much at all to like in the stale end-product; Last Night in Soho may look swish in a deliberately retro way, but its retrograde attitude to women and sex is out-of-step with 2021, and despite two good actresses in the leads, the whole project is holed beneath the waterline by a juvenile conception. Horror films have always had a lot to answer for in terms of representation, but Last Night in Soho’s nostalgic reveling in sexual violence towards women suggests a film that simply didn’t need to be made.

Last Night in Soho can currently be streaming in the UK, US and elsewhere.


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  1. “not the kind of plot-point to hang a 43 million pound movie on.” Exactly. The twist defies its own logic, just doesn’t make sense. We saw Sandie die, then to make her the villain?? I didn’t know how to feel at the end. Am I supposed to fear this woman? Be rooting for her?🤷🏽

    • …and then the writer tells us this is a story of ‘female empowerment’; it really isn’t. We spend most of the movie trying to identify who killed Sandie, which is a waste of time, because she’s alive and was just one of these many female serial killers who roamed Soho in the 60’s murdering armies of men without punishment. Is that female empowerment? Glad to hear that you were similarly confused by this ridiculous plot-point…

  2. Since I didn’t like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, I don’t see this being attractive to me at all. But after your review, definitely on the Nope list.
    If I have to watch Smith be a bad guy, I’ll just go watch Terminator: Genesys. I liked that movie, despite the vast opinion against it by so many others.

    • You must be the lone defender of that film. I can remember almost nothing about it other than overwhelming waves of frustration. How hard can it be to make a Terminator movie?

      • I view the Terminator franchise like fastfood cheeseburgers. Very hard to do wrong. It’s possible, but hard.

        Any franchise seems to have people involved who think they know better and so they do stupid crap that ruins it. Look at the latest Terminator, where they killed John Connor. The whole mythology of the Terminator centers on him and his mom.

        but I digress.

        maybe a Terminator would have made this a better movie?

        • My computer obly gives me 20 mins a day, going in for repair today, so at the moment, my posts are automatic and I do the comments by phone. So I accidentally unsubscibed from you by pressing the wrong button, and immediately re-subscribed because, as the song goes, I didnt want to miss a thing….

  3. It looks gorgeous from the trailer but is it all surface and little depth? Disappointing to hear that. I still want to see it but there’s no release date for Japan yet.

    • Dec 10 in Japan, according to sources. Super flashy film, all kinds of camera tricks, but as often with these things, the kind of twist that sounds great in theory, but doesn’t work at all. As a catalogue of visual effects, worth a look, but the story is just awful…

  4. Oh, this is quite disturbing. I’ve read so much about this film and it’s attempt to be an ‘homage’ to both Soho and the British films of the 1960s that are set there. I really liked the old ‘seedy/sordid’ Soho which was home to the British film industry. The last time I was there a couple of years ago it just seemed bland in the modern style with no sense of atmosphere or of the lost history.

    I will still see this film at some point and then I’ll come back and read your review again.

    • Will be interested to hear what you think. Soho used to be my first port of call when I came to London, and where meetings, screenings and all kinds of film-related events took place. It’s a place with an amazing history, and the narrow streets and doorways have a unique atmosphere. Like you, I’ve felt less sense of Soho as a place in recent visits, and what’s worth salvaging about this film is the swish recreation of the 60’s. But the story is very silly, and might have worked better as a 60’s set drama rather than a time-traveling giallo. British film needs a win right now, but this really isn’t it…

  5. Never understood the fascination with Wright or how he became such a critical darling. Some early stuff that was funny but that’s it. I’ll probably watch this but my expectations are going to be really low.

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