Edgar Wright directs Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in this London set timewarp thriller where a lonely student lands in the big smoke only for her bedsit to whisk her away to the seedy Sixties every night.
Nobody feels at home in Soho. I remember the lure of clip joints and the basement dirty mag shops from my teens. The sinister characters who were regular in the pubs otherwise full of tourists and commuters. The Glasshouse Stores. Norman’s Coach and Horses. The John Snow. I know why there’s so many pubs called The Blue Posts in the W1 postcode, do you? I’ve slept with girls in those Fitzrovia dorm rooms. Emerged at midnight, sweaty and half deaf, from the now lost Astoria, The Crobar and The End. Caught too many forgotten movies at the Prince Charles, The Haymarket and the viciously overpriced Odeon Panton Street. Wandered those alleyways after hours and felt on edge (though very gentrified now, I still wouldn’t recommend being around Berwick Street or Chinatown at dawn by yourself… even today). Soho is part of who I am, in my blood. And I don’t feel comfortable there… no matter what time of day it is.
I know that newsagent where Eloise takes refuge and buys a Coke early on is prime Peeping Tom territory. I know my Repulsion, giallo and Goodnight Sweetheart just as well as Wright clearly does. I know my Clouzot’s Inferno, The Frightened City and Our Friends In the North too. He hasmade a movie for film fans like me and Londoners like me and loners with a dream. And he lands it with his percussive visual boldness intact, if slightly matured. Last Night In Soho is a late night feast for the eyes – a dark fantasy shot through a kaleidoscope of reds, greens, pinks and blues. A fantastic showcase for the doll like McKenzie and Taylor-Joy. The finest use of Matt Smith so far on the big screen. A soundtrack to die for, rivalling Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood double vinyl release for being studded with forgotten Sixties gems, a movie this would make the perfect companion piece to.
Now… does it work as a pure genre horror? Intermittently. Should you go see it if easily triggered by sexual assault, exploitation and stalking? Certainly not. In many ways it is an insidious potboiler of a movie that plays with rape and murder in quite an old fashioned way. But does it evoke that dreadful feeling of being lost and threatened on the callous mean streets of Zone One? Yes. This is my hometown as a horror show… one not too far off the map from how alienating and magical that there London often really is.
Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/