Scott McDaniel: ‘Last Night in Soho’ a stylish dive into feminist horror

As stylish a movie as you’ll see this year, both in its set pieces and in how the story is crafted, “Last Night in Soho” keeps you on your toes throughout. It’s a film that has a lot to offer, pulling off psychological horror, feminist horror, mystery and drama without stretching itself too thin.

Thinking of her deceased mother’s battle with mental illness, young Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) leaves her country home for the big city of London to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

Eloise is obsessed with art and fashion of the 1960s, and one night she begins to have these dreams about a young woman in the 1960s named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) who came to London with the dream of being a famous club singer.

Both women are young artists full of dreams, but Sandie is the confident take-charge type that the timid Eloise wishes she could be. Eloise becomes engrossed, more interested in Sandie than the real people in her life.

It isn’t clear if Eloise has created Sandie in her mind, or if she is Sandie, or something else altogether. Whatever the case may be, the visions of Sandie’s life begin to occur when Eloise is awake, and the story takes a turn from hopeful to dangerous. Eloise can no longer tell what’s real, and her nostalgia for the 1960s encounters some cruel truths that too often still ring true today.

Thomasin McKenzie (“Jojo Rabbit”) plays the out-of-place oddball masterfully, struggling with something only she can see. Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit,”) is haunting in all the right ways as a victim of the 1960s club scene run by men with one thing on their mind. These men are the monsters of the story, using their power in the industry to prey on hopeful young women with a dream.

Director Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) has created something that feels familiar but looks fresh. The scenes set in 1960s London are vibrant and alive, like a fantasy of Eloise’s creation, but also like a fever dream when that fantasy starts to force itself into her reality.

There are parts of the movie that feel unnecessary; some of the relationships Eloise forms in the present don’t add much to the story. Still, when Sandie is around it’s engaging throughout, and with Eloise’s sanity all but gone, the film’s conclusion gives one final twist, making you reassess everything you’ve watched leading up to it.

“Last Night in Soho” doesn’t break the mold with its hard-hitting themes, but its flashy style and atmosphere, along with a talented cast, make it alluring and memorable.


“Last Night in Soho” is in theaters.