Today once again in the spirit of the spooky season, I’d like to talk about a film that’s perfect for a cold Halloween night.
Last Night in Soho, a 2021 British horror film. It was released in October 2021. Last Night in Soho was directed by Edgar Wright, who also worked on the screenplay with Krysty Wilson-Cairns.
The story is about Ellie, who is dreaming of becoming a designer and is fond of the music and fashion of the sixties. She moves from Cornwall to London to study fashion. Ellie’s mother died when Ellie was a child and Ellie sees her ghost in mirrors.
Ellie has trouble fitting in and her snob roommate doesn’t help. So Ellie moves into a studio flat, in a building owned by Alexandra. On the first night in her new flat, Ellie has a vivid dream of the sixties and sees a girl, Sandie who is looking to become a singer and she inspires Ellie to design a dress. Ellie has another dream in which Sandie gets a singing job and lives in the same flat Ellie lives in.
After the dream Ellie dyes her hair and starts dressing more like Sandie, she also designs more clothes inspired by Sandie. She gets a job in the pub where a chap recognises how much like Sandie she is. Ellie continues to dream about Sandie whose life starts to spiral and she becomes a prostitute when her boyfriend starts to pimp her out.
Ellie starts to see Sandie’s boyfriend Jack and the men she was forced to be with while awake and flees a party when she is attacked by the ghosts of them. She is taken home where she sees a vision of Sandie being murdered by her boyfriend. Ellie starts to suspect that Jack is the man who recognised her in the pub. She goes to the police but is not taken seriously.
Ellie starts doing research into Sandie but finds nothing about her, instead she finds reports of missing men. She goes to confront the man from the pub, he denies killing Sandie but is hit by a taxi before Ellie can properly talk to him. Turns out he isn’t Jack, but a retired policeman. Ellie realises that he tried to help Sandie escape the trouble she was in before her death.
Ellie goes back to the flat intending to leave London, only to discover that Alexandra is Sandie. She didn’t die, but she did kill Jack when he tried to kill her. She also killed all the men Jack sold her to and buried them under the floorboards of the house. She has also drugged Ellie with the intent to kill her to stop Ellie from revealing her secret. There’s a bit of a showdown in which the house ends up on fire and the ghosts want Ellie to kill Sandie but she won’t. She tells Sandie she understands why she killed the men. Sandie lets Ellie escape the house but remains inside herself and dies.
The ending shows Ellie being happy and successful, and the ghost of her mother and Sandie are also happy.
My Thoughts – General
I liked this story, I love the setting, the way it’s shot, the characters and the twist at the end. I do love a ghost story where there’s more to the ghost than meets the eye.
My thoughts – Characters
The characters are well done, there’s the odd cliché, such as the snobby roommate. But as I have said before not every character needs to be round, or even three-dimensional. The roommate was there to make Ellie live away from dorms and they did that job, while also making Ellie more sympathetic.
Sandie was a great character, I do love a nuanced character, you pity her, she had a rough bloody time of it, no doubt about it, you might even cheer for her story of revenge, or at least understand it. But she’s also a bit of a villain when she tries to kill Ellie. The depth and the contradiction are wonderful.
While I don’t feel that Ellie developed a great deal through the story, the story didn’t suffer for her being a static character. So I’m not complaining. Ellie is relatable, her goals are understandable, and she’s sympathetic.
My Thoughts – Setting
I liked the setting, it was well realised and didn’t do what I hate with films or shows set in London, which is show certain London landmarks like they are all in the same place in the city and the city only landmarks. I love a London set film that sits in London.
My Thoughts – Plot
I liked the plot, it wasn’t anything mind-blowing, as in it’s not a story that hasn’t been done before (ghosts whose murder needs to be solved) but it was still enjoyable.
It was well-paced; the mystery was suspenseful and enough was revealed and kept secret to keep us interested through the whole film. As I said above the twist was also interesting enough at the end to be pleasing. I didn’t find the movie predictable, it was a fun romp.
The only criticism I do have is that the stakes aren’t great. The tension in the film is pretty low because while we’re interested in what the hell is going on with Ellie’s dreams and what happened to Sandie, there’s no threat to Ellie until the very end. But that being said the mystery was enough of a motivation for Ellie that we could see why she continued to pursue things until the end.
My Thoughts – Theme
The horror in this film is psychological, the ghosts are not particularly scary for us or Ellie who has been seeing her mum’s ghost for years. Though they do at times become overwhelming for her such as at the party.
The idea that the past will always come true, actions will always have consequences etc is a strong theme in this story, with Ellie effectively being pulled into the past via dreams and the ghosts still lingering to get revenge etc.
There’s also a little commentary on the dangers for women who fall for the wrong man, and people trafficking which is effectively what happens to Sandie when her boyfriend starts selling her and beating her.
Despite the ghosts, this felt more like a thriller than a horror to me.
I would very much recommend this as one to watch, it’s good simple fun.