LAST NIGHT IN SOHO Blu-ray | ©2022 Focus Features

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO Blu-ray | ©2022 Focus Features

Rating: R
Stars: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp, Michael Ajao, Rita Tushingham
Writers: Edgar Wright & Krysty Wilson-Cairns, story by Edgar Wright
Director: Edgar Wright
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: October 29, 2021

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO is a 2021 release that is entirely worth catching up with on home video/streaming.

Director Edgar Wright, who co-wrote LAST NIGHT IN SOHO with Krysty Wilson-Cairns from his premise, is known for playful takes on horror (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, THE WORLD’S END), fantasy (SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD), and action (HOT FUZZ, BABY DRIVER).

While there is humor in LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, it gets extremely dark, with rape, forced prostitution and murder at the heart of the plot. The film makes it clear upfront that the supernatural is real within the storyline. This is because not only does our present-day protagonist, Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie), see ghosts, but because her loving grandmother (Rita Tushingham) comments on the matter.

What this does for us as viewers is reassure is that, no, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO won’t be one of those movies that wants to be ambiguous about the main character’s sanity. Some of those movies seem to do this expressly because they don’t want to be labeled as horror. Wright isn’t (pardon the pun) afraid of the genre.

Ellie has had a secluded upbringing in Cornwall. An aspiring clothing designer, she’s always been fascinated by the Swinging Sixties, and especially by London as it was during that period. So, when Ellie is accepted into a design college in London, it seems like she couldn’t be happier.

But indeed, she could. After a few nights with a monumentally awful classmate/roommate, Ellie rents a room by herself in a house owned by its landlady (Diana Rigg, in a glorious performance).

The house, and the room, have a history. At night, Ellie finds herself dreaming of Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who had the room in the Sixties. Sandie is a self-made Mod, an aspiring singer who is determined to be the toast of the town.

Ellie is enchanted by Sandie’s boldness and style, and what seem to be her larger-than-life adventures. At a nightclub, Sandie is courted by man-about-town Jack (Matt Smith); the two have a dance number that is up there with anything we might see in WEST SIDE STORY.

But as Ellie’s bond with Sandie becomes stronger, occurring during Ellie’s waking hours, so does Sandie’s story become harrowing. Ellie is determined to find out the truth of what happened five decades ago.

Viewers have been divided over a major third act plot twist. It is one that the filmmakers have set up fairly. The storytelling rules of how things work in LAST NIGHT IN SOHO are consistent, which makes it an expertly-constructed mystery, among many other things.

Director Wright has a blast recreating the past. His ‘60s London is straight out of equal parts the Beatles, the Stones, 007, and Yardley commercials. It’s beautiful and wicked, with a completely believable awful underside.

With Sandie, Taylor-Joy and the filmmakers create a human embodiment of the period. Sandie is alternately brazen, dazzling, and lost. Taylor-Joy keeps an impressive through-line on the character.

McKenzie’s role is less showy, but she is likewise persuasive in all her moods. Michael Ajao is charming as Ellie’s ally, and Terence Stamp has merely to appear to exude menace.

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO is a blend of so many good things: a superb cast, gorgeous visuals, creepy spirits, an engrossing narrative. It tips its hat to classic works of the past, but it emerges as a thrilling original of the present.

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