A scene set at a Halloween party is an essential requirement for any horror movie you’re planning to watch in the run-up to Halloween. 2021’s Last Night in Soho is an excellent and hallucinatory example.
In the scene, London College of Fashion fresher Eloise is stalked on the student union dancefloor by the apparitions haunting her bedsit flat, soundtracked by the guitar riff of Happy House by Siouxsie and The Banshees.
An aspiring fashion designer obsessed with the 1960s, Eloise (played brilliantly by Thomasin McKenzie) moves from her comfortable rural home to the socially isolating city.
Unable to make a connection with her peers, she finds an escape in her dreams, which transport her to the decadent – but dark and dangerous – Sixties London.
There she follows the life of Anya Taylor-Joy’s Sandie, an aspiring West End performer and a previous resident of her flat. As Sandie’s pursuit of her artistic dream unfolds, it becomes clear that her life in the past uncomfortably mirrors Eloise’s present.
This is a film that takes its time to build an immersive world and an engaging mystery for its audience.
Every scene feels painstakingly crafted by people who are passionate about film, from the Halloween party to the dance hall scene where the audience first meets Sandie and Matt Smith’s slimy nightclub manager Jack.
Eloise’s sixth sense, which allows scenes from the past to replay themselves in front of her, leads to hypnotising, kaleidoscopic and colourful visual spectacles.
It is a fiercely creative and unique psychological horror experience from Director Edgar Wright, who blends his own unmistakable style with the work of directors like Dario Argento, Roman Polanski, Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell.
Wright has spoken about the extent to which Sixties cinema and music inspired the film and cast Dame Diana Rigg and Terrence Stamp, two icons of the era, in supporting roles.
However, the film serves as a deconstruction of nostalgia – Eloise connects to the 1960s through the period’s films, fashion and music but finds a sleazier, darker reality underneath the rose-tinted glamour through Sandie’s lived experience.
Wright keeps the film (perhaps surprisingly) light and up-tempo, despite its heavy themes of social isolation, coercion and exploitation.
It is extraordinarily watchable and entertaining. It might be the perfect horror film for students, especially freshers, as it captures the sense of being overwhelmed by the transition to further education and life in a new city.
Featured Image Credit: Universal Pictures