Ever since his feature film breakthrough in 2004 with “Shaun of the Dead,” a loving parody of horror zombie films, it seemed inevitable that Edgar Wright would one day end up directing a full blown psychological horror.
“Last Night in Soho” is absolutely best experienced blind, because the trailers for the movie reveal way too much — as is the norm sadly — and while the film is extremely satisfying on both the narrative and visual levels, experiencing all the twists and turns without trailer spoilers just makes the whole film even more fulfilling.
Wright has one of the most recognizable styles in cinema today, both in directing and editing, and that remains the case in “Last Night in Soho” as well. His style has obviously matured over the years, but his signature editing quirks, like whip pans and transitions, remain as hilariously aggressive and captivating as they have always been.
Wright is the most exciting, if not the best, working director today. This is demonstrated with a singular dance scene towards the beginning of the film that is worth the price of admission alone, simply because of how impressive and mind-blowing it is. I would pay fifteen dollars just to see that scene again, and everything else that happens in the movie before and after that dance is just a bonus.
That being said, the writing is the only potential weak spot of “Last Night in Soho.” I personally enjoyed all the horror and late nightclub tropes that Wright was playing with, mostly because of how well he directs the action. Still, there are definitely repetitive moments and underdeveloped characters throughout the film, which might make some viewers disappointed or disengaged from the narrative.
Narratively, every single line spoken is always said for a reason, and everything is telegraphed way before it happens. This is a signature component of Wright’s style, and he is as sharp in his foreshadowing as ever.
Before we get to the acting, we must discuss the biggest star of this film, which is London, and its cinematography masterfully delivered by Chung-hoon Chung, known for his work with Park Chan-wook of “Oldboy” fame.
Chung’s London is as alive as any human on screen, and the past and the present are distinct and equally terrifying, even when those two times overlap. As the sound moves from the front of the movie theater speakers to surround sound with the plot moving from Cornwall to London, so does the cinematography, becoming sharper and more vivid as characters go from loving London to hating it.
A misdirection the trailers contain is that it seems that Anya Taylor-Joy (portraying Sandy) and Matt Smith (portraying Jack) are the leads of the movie. In reality, the film spends most of its runtime concentrated on the perspective of Thomasin McKenzie’s leading character Eloise, giving her time to play with the character’s nuance and emotion to the fullest.
Aside from McKenzie, two other acting highlights are the late Diana Rigg — in her last role ever as Eloise’s landlady — and Terrence Stamp as Lindsay. They do not have a lot of screentime, but every second they spend in character is highly entertaining, menacing and captivating.
Edgar Wright is definitely one of the most capable working directors and writers today, so even with some narrative missteps, this movie will satisfy any fan of Wright’s previous work, the horror genre or just quality cinema.