Last Night in Soho is a supernatural thriller directed by Edgar Wright. Wright also co-wrote the script with Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Thomasin McKenzie stars in the lead role, Eloise Turner, alongside an impressive cast which includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp, and the now deceased Diana Rigg.
Eloise, or Ellie, as she prefers to be called, is a shy young woman about to make a big move from her comfortable English village where she has lived with her grandmother. Her mother had died by suicide after some significant mental health issues. Ellie is not entirely free of the affliction and has hallucinations of her mother. Ellie is determined to make her mark as a fashion designer after attending school in London. Of course, the fast paced life of London and her new social situation requires some adjustment. When Ellie moves out of the dormitory and into her new apartment, she finds a conduit to Soho in the 1960’s where she encounters an aspiring singer named Sandie and is able to observe her journey without being able to interact directly. Ellie doesn’t understand how she was able to enter this life, but she enjoys the ride at first. Then, Sandie meets Jack who makes promises of getting her foot in the door to the stage. Well, Sandie’s path to stardom gets detoured drastically as Jack proves himself to be less than noble as her manager. Then the detour becomes a bloody mess, and Ellie finds the nightmares of the past intruding on her present day reality.
This is actually a pretty good movie. It is not without some flaws, however it delivers on the suspense. I am not all that familiar with Thomasin McKenzie, however she does put forth a compelling, sympathetic performance. Taylor-Joy is an actress with whom I have recently become familiar, so I already suspected she would be compelling. Matt Smith plays the charming yet duplicitous Jack and is very different from his more benevolent previous role on Doctor Who. I have very little criticism of the actual performances. Most of the writing was fairly believable in spite of the supernatural aspects of the story. There are a few knots to unravel in the story. There is a mistaken identity issue that I think should have been easier for Ellie to figure out. She seems to drop the ball on asking the most obvious questions of Stamp’s creepy old guy lurking around the alleys and pubs of present day Soho, so that was a little distracting. The setting was greatly realized. It was a bittersweet moment to recognize Rigg in what seems to be her final role before her recent demise.
Behind the more fantastical plot elements, there is a pretty decent effort to deal with the difficult subject matter of mental health issues. McKenzie really does well with avoiding any of the more cartoonish portrayals of someone whose sanity is unraveling.
This movie does not manage to reach the heights of a masterpiece, but it does hit the mark of being solidly thrilling and entertaining, and that has been an increasingly difficult target for Hollywood to hit these days.