Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Last Night In Soho (2021, Edgar Wright)

This Horrorfest us horror fans were blessed with multiple options via both streaming and the movie theater. I included Last Night in Soho because it only came to my area after Halloween and thus I eagerly watched it before it left my area. Edgar Wright has sort of done horror before with Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz definitely had some horror movie moments. His latest isn’t as good as those films-well maybe it equals Shaun-however it is still pretty great and is one of the year’s best films.

The very talented Thomasin McKenzie plays a young woman named Ellie who ventures to London to be a fashion designer. There she encounters snobby classmates, a friendly young man (played by Michael Ajao, who is also excellent and very likable), and ghosts. Well at least she sees them, which either hints that they are in her mind or they are very real. The first half of the movie plays out as an eerie drama, the second half very bleak psychological thriller. I saw Repulsion vibes in several scenes, and I’m sure other films influenced this one as well.

Having acting legends Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg in the movie was a fine touch, and I sort of guessed some of the twists but one of them snuck up on me a bit. I think had I viewed this at home I probably would have figured it out sooner. That doesn’t diminish the movie, though, as there are multiple exceptional scenes. Particularly one where Ellie sees the ghosts at a Halloween party. This film also captures London in the 1960s very well, and has a fantastic soundtrack. Silly me I forgot to mention how wonderfully despicable Matt Smith is in this movie as one of the people who exploits Sandie.

What’s also notable is how Anya Taylor-Joy’s Sandie steals the movie even though she’s not the main character. Ellie’s obsession with her goes pretty overboard, yet no one watching this movie can blame her. She captives both men and women alike in this film, and is a device for Wright to comment sharply on the male gaze and men’s creepy actions towards women. My complaint is that such themes get a bit left behind towards the end of the movie. Regardless I’m a fan of Last Night in Soho, and it left a pretty strong impression upon me. Thus closes out Horrorfest 2021, until next year cheers!

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Split (2017, M. Night Shyamalan)

Even though I agree with those who feel that Split is not a realistic potrait of someone with mental illness, as a horror film it works a lot. Shyamalan goes back to what made him an effective director, and I have heard good things about The Visit, as well. James McAvoy is really terrifying in this movie, and Anya Taylor-Joy is a perfect foil for him, particularly for reasons that I cannot spoil in this review. Kevin turns out to be a rather complex and interesting case study, especially since he has multiple personalities living inside his mind.

Due to the film’s run time not all of them are shown, and the ones featured range from harmless to disturbed. Both Kevin’s doctor and Casey, the film’s protagonist, have the misfortune to discover the last hidden identity Kevin has stored away: The Beast. Which leads to a pretty frightening last act and McAvoy doing some excellent acting. He was really perfect for the main role. Taylor-Joy gives a strong, haunted and understated performance in a film that rests on the audience believing this could happen. With Split M. Night reaffirms that he is back to making quality films worth seeing, and I eagerly await Glass, which comes out next year.

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