Last Night in Soho made its United States premiere as the first Secret Screening at Fantastic Fest. Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) has recently moved to London with hopes of becoming a fashion designer. She soon finds she is able to travel back to the 1960s. She “meets” a girl named Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy) and at first, everything seems great. Before long, the dark side of Soho – and life – is revealed to her.
The film is overflowing with style. Musically, the soundtrack melds songs of the Swinging Sixties with occasional modern beats. Visually, Last Night in Soho has the fashion of the 60s constantly on screen. There are also vibrant colors and great use of reflections. The movie is constantly eye-catching. There is a business that borders on chaos the entire time.
Along with style, Last Night in Soho plays a lot of tricks with reflections. This is seen a little in the trailer, but cannot be fully appreciated until it is seen on screen. There is all manner of mirrors and movements to constantly keep the audience guessing. Dance routines and simple conversations see characters constantly changing. This adds to the mystery and will engage those watching.
At a glance, many will compare the film to a giallo and while that is not entirely incorrect, it would not be the best way to describe it. Aside from a splash of color and a scene or two, Last Night in Soho is more about conveying a world than paying homage to a genre. Though there is a common thread regarding the treatment of women, the plot also has a deeper statement to make than most Italian horror movies.
It is in these moments that Last Night in Soho is at its most frightening. As Eloise learns more about the world she has spent her young life idolizing, she realizes there are some ugly similarities between then and now. It is almost like a twisted coming of age story. Not long after arriving, an innocuous encounter foreshadows what will soon consume the would-be fashion designer’s life.
There are jump scares and blood, but the terror is rooted in real life issues. Early on, Eloise’s grandmother warns her to be careful. The hasty dismissal is the first hint of the girl’s nativity to the world. Last Night in Soho can be seen as a coming of age metaphor or a woman’s sexual awakening. It is not painted in an easy or pristine light and is an overall sad commentary on the state of the world.
Fantastic Fest takes place from September 23 – September 30. Check out AIPT’s ongoing coverage.
Last Night in Soho opens in theaters October 29
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