Edgar Wright’s first straightforward horror movie, Last Night in Soho, is anchored by rising stars like Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Last Night in Soho.
Although there are genuine jump scares in all the Cornetto movies, Last Night in Soho is Edgar Wright’s first full-blown horror movie. Fitting neatly into the psychological horror subgenre, it tells the story of a budding young fashion designer who rents a bedsit in London and finds herself transported back to a hauntingly unglamorous Swinging Sixties.
Psychological horror is tough to pull off. Instead of relying on gory visuals or sharply edited tension, it largely rests on the performances of the cast. Fortunately for Last Night in Soho, its cast is filled with A-list talent like Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, and the late, great Dame Diana Rigg.
6 Thomasin McKenzie – Jojo Rabbit (7.9)
Thomasin McKenzie gives an incredible performance in the lead role of Last Night in Soho. As the illusions created by her nostalgia for the Swinging Sixties are swiftly shattered by a couple of immersive time-traveling nightmares, Eloise is an easy protagonist to root for. Thanks to McKenzie’s likable turn, the audience is with Ellie through the whole supernatural ordeal.
McKenzie’s highest-rated work on IMDb is her star-making turn in Taika Waititi’s World War II satire Jojo Rabbit. She plays a Jewish refugee that Jojo’s mother allows to hide out in their house. McKenzie developed spectacular on-screen chemistry with her co-star Roman Griffin Davis.
5 Terence Stamp – Billy Budd (7.9)
Throughout Last Night in Soho, Terence Stamp leans into the creepiness of his “red herring” character, the enigmatic “Silver Haired Gentleman.” Ellie is convinced that he’s the present-day version of Jack who got away with Sandie’s murder, but she’s shocked to find out – after he’s hit and seemingly killed by a taxi – that he’s actually an ex-police officer who tried to save Sandie.
Stamp is most widely recognized as General Zod from the Superman movies and Bernadette Bassenger from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. But his top-rated movie on IMDb is the 1962 historical adventure Billy Budd. Billy Budd was adapted from Louis O. Coxe and Robert H. Chapman’s stage play of the same name, which was in turn adapted from Herman Melville’s novella of the same name.
4 Diana Rigg – Last Night In Soho (7.6)
Last Night in Soho opens with the words, “For Diana,” dedicating the movie to the memory of Dame Diana Rigg, the screen legend who plays Ellie’s landlady Ms. Collins. Rigg passed away before the movie was released, but rounds out her decades-long acting career with one of her most memorable performances. She’s more renowned for her TV roles – specifically Emma Peel in The Avengers (the ‘60s spy series, not the Marvel superhero franchise) and Olenna Tyrell in HBO’s Game of Thrones – but she did her fair share of work on the big screen.
Rigg has appeared in such renowned movies as The Hospital, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (in which she played the only “Bond girl” that Bond has ever married), and The Great Muppet Caper, but her highest-rated film on IMDb is actually Last Night in Soho itself.
3 Rita Tushingham – Doctor Zhivago (8.0)
Rita Tushingham was a perfect meta casting choice to play Ellie’s grandmother Peggy in Last Night in Soho. Peggy is cagey about her granddaughter leaving the British countryside to pursue her dreams in London. In the 1967 musical Smashing Time, Tushingham played a starry-eyed character who did just that.
Tushingham was one of the biggest British movie stars of the ‘60s, appearing in such hits as A Taste of Honey and The Knack …and How to Get It. Her highest-rated movie on IMDb is the classic romantic epic Doctor Zhivago, in which she played the supporting role of Tanya Komarova.
2 Matt Smith – Lungs (8.3)
Matt Smith plays against type with an ominous performance as Sandie’s abusive manager-turned-pimp Jack in Last Night in Soho. Smith is charming as always, but his character has a startling dark side. Smith’s highest-rated movie on IMDb is a hybrid of film and stage play.
Three months after the coronavirus pandemic shut down UK theaters in 2020, Smith and Claire Foy reprised their roles in the play Lungs at London’s Old Vic. The audience had to tune in via Zoom, so it’s technically a movie. The play revolves around a couple debating whether to have a child in a world with overpopulation and economic recession. It hit close to home for a lot of viewers who were having similar discussions amidst the early days of the pandemic.
1 Anya Taylor-Joy – Last Night In Soho (7.6)
Edgar Wright revealed recently that he originally intended to cast Anya Taylor-Joy in the lead role of Ellie in Last Night in Soho. However, after seeing Split and The Witch, Wright realized she’d already played the role of a likable final girl twice before. So, he gave her the role of Ellie’s ‘60s counterpart Sandie instead – and, of course, she knocked it out of the park.
Like Rigg, Taylor-Joy’s highest-rated movie on IMDb is Last Night in Soho itself. With her roles in Last Night in Soho, Split, and The Witch, Taylor-Joy has established herself as a modern-day “scream queen” in the age of so-called “elevated horror.” With her starring role in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, she’s also proven her chops as a dramatic actor outside the horror genre.
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