Film Review: Last Night in Soho

‘Tis the season once more, Mariah Carey’s net worth is on the rise which can only mean one thing: Halloween is over and people are prematurely celebrating Christmas again.

Stuck with us, in this weird purgatory of the seasons that we call November, are all the spooky movies that outlive the month of October, including Edgar Wright’s new film: Last Night In Soho.

Although saying it’s spooky might be incorrect, Soho’s style is certainly stunning before scary, seeing as its shots choose to show a stylised world, an aesthetic city that’s seeping with a somewhat charming soul, yet, below its surface there’s a sinister secret sitting still, waiting for its release.

Alliterations aside, everything about this film screams style. Wright’s unique direction takes centre stage as scene after scene showcases some of the most unique sequences I’ve seen in the horror genre. If you’re familiar with his previous work this might not come as a surprise, but even while expecting his signature directing techniques I was blown away.

Early framing of the characters and locations cleverly mirror and even foreshadow later moments in the film. The camera captures London in a very matter-of-fact way while still retaining and expressing personality.

Unfortunately, the heavy focus on directing does have its drawbacks. The more attention the camera pulls onto itself the more it takes away from everything else, especially themes and tension. When all the spotlight is put on the packaging it diminishes the importance of the content in the eyes of the viewer.

It’s not that quality in directing and writing are mutually exclusive but there’s a balance that must be met so that one doesn’t overshadow the other. It’s also not that this movie’s script fails at delivering its themes and building up tension, it does mostly succeed at getting its message across. However at times the visual aspect of the film, amazing as it may be, feels more like it’s acting as a barrier rather than a platform.

Thankfully these moments are the exception to the rule, and as the movie progresses and the plot thickens and so does the atmosphere.

Thomasin McKenzie is also great in the leading role, gradually showing more fatigue as the movie progresses. Not only because her performance calls for it, but also because it must be really tiring carrying the whole movie on her back.

This is not because she’s the only great performance in the film, far from it, both Anya Taylor-Joy and Michael Ajao fit their characters perfectly, but because we see the film solely from her perspective not many others get their time to shine.

In fact, only the aforementioned trio actually feel like fully fleshed out characters, which leaves a good portion of side roles as mere puppets to forward the plot. This isn’t inherently a bad thing but when you oversimplify characters in service of the plot, it can shake the suspension of disbelief of the audience, which compromises the very story they were there to push in the first place.

Image credit: Universal Pictures

But much like the roles of these characters, this is a minor problem at least when compared with this movie’s biggest shortcoming: the ending. It’s not bad by any means but similarly to a lot of other visually impressive horror films of recent years (e.g. Us  and Hereditary), the ending feels a bit rushed and somewhat of an afterthought.

It fits in line with the rest of the film both from a writing and a directing standpoint, but not unlike a student cramming in the conclusion to a paper that’s due in a couple of minutes, it tries to fit too much in a reduced amount of time.

And with the movie coming in at just under two hours it could’ve easily used 20 or even 30 more minutes to develop some of its characters and make for a more satisfying conclusion.

Proportionately to what’s been written it may seem like this movie gets a lot wrong, but it is actually the exact opposite, because when you do everything else so right, the few flaws present stand out that much more.

Last Night In Soho may not be Wright’s most polished work but at its core it’s still a really fun and visually inventive psychological thriller and if anything its amongst some of the most unique things the director has put out.

Not scary, but still scary good, and probably one of the best horror films of the year. So rewind your clocks, put on another last minute costume and pretend its still October because it’s probably worth it to give this movie a shot.

By Francisco Santos

Feature image: Universal Pictures/Alamy/Lifestyle Pictures


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