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.

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, 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 2014 Presents: The Ninth Gate (1999, Roman Polanski)


Although more of a thriller than a horror movie, The Ninth Gate is rooted in both the supernatural and reality, something that Polanski did with Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant and Repulsion. Johnny Depp portrayals a book dealer and collector who is hired by a rich collector named Boris, played by Frank Langella to prove his copy of a book written by the Devil is not a fake. Even though the reasons are never revealed, Depp’s Corso presses on with the search, brushing past increasing dangers and witnessing horrible things in the process.

This, like all of Polanski’s films is rather well made and is engaging throughout. However it almost falls apart in the second act and the ending is a tad unsatisfying, and the film could have been shortened by at least 20 minutes. The mystery woman (the rather gorgeous Emmanuelle Seigner)  that aids Corso is a little too convenient and the film itself dives into silliness in certain parts. Yet I was still mostly entertained and the film has the hallmarks of many of Polanski’s best works. A much better modern Polanski thriller is The Ghost Writer, a film that has a better cast and is more tightly paced.

 

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