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[Review] Last Night in Soho makes other films look lazy

Genre: Thriller, Horror

Directed by Edgar Wright

Starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy

A movie doesn’t have to dazzle you visually. When one does, it reminds you how many tools a filmmaker has and how few are pushed to their limit. Edgar Wright knows how to use a camera and his sets and his actors and “Last Night in Soho” is a reminder of what cinema was created for.

Last Night in Soho is a story about an aspiring fashion designer from the countryside who gets her big chance at a top school in London. Eloise is a fish that finds herself in the wrong waters, polluted with ghosts and mystery. Thomasin McKenzie plays the “final girl” in a way that makes you forget you’re watching a horror movie. She’s not there to scream or run around in a wet tee shirt. She’s simply a character in a drama that happens to be about a scary subject. You sympathize with her and that investment elevates the movie above the genre and shows us how the genre can grow.

The movie also stars Anya Taylor-Joy who has been regularly popping up in cinephile watch lists over the last few years. She was great in The Witch and she’s great in this movie too playing Sandie, a swinging-60s glam girl also looking to strike it big in the big city. She falls into the big dreams, big city cliché and lives a nightmare that haunts Eloise — who somehow dances between the past and the present. The plot is interesting and the mystery does it’s job, but like with all good movies, it’s only one ingredient in a very flavorful stew.

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Since the invention of the camera, filmmakers have been trying their best to do more than just capture a stage production. Then at some point the popularity of the stage waned and movies didn’t have to differentiate themselves as much. We now live in an era where characters move about in their world and the lens just gives us access into what’s happening.

Edgar Wright sees the camera as a tool, his sets are an opportunity, and his actors don’t exist in the real world. They exist in a world where imagination dictates all. He controls what we see, when we see it, and most importantly HOW we see it in a way that reminds you of how magical a story can be told visually. When I say magic, I refer to the “trick” aspect that CGI took away from us. We all know how everything is accomplished now: with computers. For a few hours, this movie let’s us be a little less jaded about our “cinema” vocabulary.


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