Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho is a whirlwind of plot and modern day Hitchcock thriller that’s lacking in attention to details. The movie follows ‘60s obsessed, aspiring fashion student Eleanor (Thomasin McKenzie) as she gets into her dream art school and makes the move from Cornwall to central London. Ellie (Eleanor) is an eccentric girl who, from the beginning of the movie, is seen to have psychic abilities where she can see and feel things around her that aren’t actually there. This detail established early on sets up the rest of the movie as Ellie begins to see things after she moves into an old fashioned and run-down apartment after disapproving of student housing and her insincere and obviously jealous roommate Jacosta (Synnove Karlsen). Her first night in her new room, owned by the peculiar and somewhat strict Miss Collins (Diana Rigg), ends with her being transported into 1960’s Soho where she mirrors aspiring singer Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy) for the first time.
Finding the life she dreams of in Sandy, someone who lives in the era she prefers and seems to know how to get what she wants, Ellie begins to make changes in her life like dying her hair colour and buying a new wardrobe that mirrors the singer. However, as the nights go on, the connection between the two gets stronger. As Sandy’s problems begin to impact Ellie’s reality, the gateway into a world she once loved starts to become more of a nightmare.
Despite clearly following a basic thriller plotline with the occasional jumpscare and unexpected twist, Last Night In Soho puts a lot of emphasis on character development and background to make the story more impactful. However, it’s reliance on creating shock value to appease audiences stops it from drawing out important details that would develop the storyline.
The movie begins at a slow place, taking a long time to set up the connection between Ellie and Sandy. By the halfway point however, it jumps so quickly into action that details such as Ellie’s family history of mental health and her late mother’s connection to the story, are quickly lost.
Flashing lights, SFX, and scary scenes do more to distract from the plot of the movie than enhance it. Despite being two of the most important characters, the “male saviour” John (Michael Ajao), who sticks by Ellie no matter what, and Lindsay (Sam Claflin/Terence Stamp), the supposed bad guy that turns out to be good, there isn’t much about them in the film.
Beyond this, in her final movie role before passing, may she rest in peace, Diana Rigg did a wonderful job at playing the role of the antagonist Miss Collins. Her portrayal of the character made you feel sympathy for the situation she was forced into, and almost makes you agree with what she’s done. Of course, her crimes aren’t revealed until the last few scenes where she tries to kill Thomasin’s Ellie after she discovers the truth, but you can definitely tell she puts her all into the characterization from the start.
Although the movie’s controversial yet unexpected twist (Miss Collins being the villain) adds drama, an opportunity for audiences to immerse themselves in the movie and theorize, and some interesting character development, it struggles to balance out the storyline with its plot holes. Luckily for most audiences, this is only noticeable if you really pay attention.
The ending of the movie tries to wrap up the whole story by showcasing how Ellie ends up using the experience as influence for her fashion show, but because it cuts from the height of action to a very basic scene, it takes away the thriller aspect and confuses audiences.
For anyone that’s looking to have a good time however, this movie is perfect. It’s colour scheme, references to the past, and complex plot make for a good watch. For those who like theorizing and figuring out the truth behind the story, this movie offers up many opportunities to do so with its endless trail of clues and connections. As for the classic thriller fans, the loud noises, bright lights, and occasional jumpscares will have them on the edge of their seat. Needless to say, despite the occasional missing detail and somewhat confusing plot, the actors put on a wonderful performance and worked with what they were given to really make the story come alive.