Last Night in Soho


Viewed – 27 December 2021

I’ve kept an eye on the careers of both Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy in recent years, both having impressed in ‘Jo Jo Rabbit’ and Netflix show ‘The Queens Gambit’ respectively. So when I heard that the latest from director Edgar Wright starred both of these talents, I was certainly appealed. McKenzie plays Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer who moves to London. There she finds her love for the sixties era come to life when she experiences visions that follow the escapades of a young wannabe singer named Sandy (Taylor-Joy). Somehow the two girls lives become entwined as the glitz and glamour take a sinister turn.

Edgar Wright has always been one of the more inventive and stylish directors, first coming to fame with zombie-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, and that creativity is on fine form here, inventively jumping back and forth from past to present, whilst bringing to life sixties London with a top notch soundtrack. Both lead actresses deliver great performances but this is especially a showcase for McKenzie who carries the movie in a demanding yet effective turn.

This just held my internet throughout. For what on paper is a sort of horror thriller, this wasn’t as scary as it might have intended but was still a joy to watch and get mesmerised by the atmosphere, the twisty-turny plot and visuals. Is it Wright’s best movie to date? Possibly, and also proves a great showcase for two of the most watchable and talented young actresses currently working. A must see.

Verdict: Essential

The Night House


Viewed – 13 November 2021 Disney+

After a woman’s husband commits suicide under mysterious circumstances, she finds herself experiencing strange visions and creepy goings on during the night in the lakeside house where they lived together.

A fairly typical premise granted, but with effective atmosphere and a few genuine chills along the way. Rebecca Hall stars as Beth and is convincing as a woman struck by grief who begins to uncover a secret life linked to her husband. As the movie progressed it began to develop from standard haunted house fair to something more disturbing and I began to think – this was getting interesting. However a final act seemed to disregard much of what gets suggested in dreams and visions, instead choosing not to give the viewer any real answers.

Hall is very good however and the concept was an interesting take on a cliched setup. I just wished it had delved further into the more creepier ideas that may or may not have been real. I guess the director wanted to leave it ambiguous, but all I was left with was disappointment and frustration.

Verdict: Poor

Wrong Turn


Viewed – 06 November 2021 Netflix

I can’t say I approached this ‘reboot’ latest entry in the long running franchise with much excitement. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the first movie despite the appeal of Eliza Dushcu. This time around a concerned father (Mathew Modine) arrives in a small town looking for his missing daughter. Flash back several weeks earlier and said daughter and her friends decide to go hiking in the rural mountain region, despite warnings of ‘stick to the oath’ from the locales.

So far, so predictable. However after stumbling onto the booby-trapped territory of a local cult (in place of hillbilly cannibals) the friends must battle for survival. What made this feel a bit more fresh and to a degree more realistic is that the cult are some sort of throwback to early settlers who have shunned modern society and prefer to be left alone. It’s not until the hikers treat them as a threat that they turn nasty. Interesting approach. Add to this the father and daughter subplot that bookends the movie and I admit I got rather caught up in what was happening.

There’s some memorably gory deaths, which is to be expected and a few cliched characters, yet with lead actress Charlotte Vega delivering more than the usual ‘final girl’ performance… this may not rewrite the rule book, but still managed to be effective. Worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Freaky


Viewed – 23 October 2021 online rental

There’s not many new ideas in the horror genre, but on reading up on this slasher take on Freaky Friday from the Director of the equally unique Happy Death Day, I thought I’d give it a go. A serial killer has been stalking a small town and offing teens. So the local kids are a bit nervous. During one after-school party however, social outcast Millie finds herself the killer’s latest target when her mother forgets to come and collect her. However after being attacked, something strange happens, and despite surviving the encounter, following morning Millie wakes up to discover – she’s swapped bodies with the killer.

I’m not myself today…

A great idea, making for a fun little slasher comedy-horror. After the body swap occurs, Vince Vaughn as the masked killer gets to play decidedly camp and is clearly having a ball. Kathryn Newton as Millie in serial killer mode is basically The Terminator, portrayed fairly one-dimensional. We get some entertaining kills, plenty of energy and a decent soundtrack. Yet the movie is also one of a glut of ‘woke’ message movies of late, particularly portraying the concept of male masculinity as something evil or wrong… sigh. It’s again very forced and completely unnecessary. However I still had fun with this.

I’d have liked some back story for Vaughn’s killer, especially how he knows about the mystical knife that causes the body swap, but anyone looking for depth should probably go elsewhere. Overall this was dumb, occasionally gory, frequently funny entertainment that’s still worth a watch … but is unlikely to become a classic of the genre.

Verdict: Good

Censor


Viewed – 02 October 2021 online rental

Enid, a woman working for a British censorship board in the early eighties discovers a movie that strongly resembles her own childhood memories of when her younger sister disappeared. So begins an investigation into the movie and it’s mysterious Director, as the boundaries between reality and the movie start to blur.

Video nasty…

This British horror has a great initial concept, and explores a time in the U.K. when many violent or gruesome movies were getting banned as well as occasionally linked to real life crimes. This explores that period, which delivered movies that went onto become classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However the viewpoint here is one dimensional, with that era of horror being looked at as sleazy and only worthy of disdain. It generally works in the context of the story however and the mystery surrounding Enid’s sister is an interesting one.

Shame then that any mystery or investigation is soon discarded in favour of increasingly surreal imagery and a focus of Enid potentially losing her mind. Visually this echoes the likes of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, especially in the more nightmarish sequences, and is on a whole imaginatively filmed. Niamh Algar as Enid proved compelling with one bit towards the end particularly heart-breaking. Just a shame then the movie lacked closure, at times felt rushed and kind of disappeared up its own ass. Worth a look for its visuals and its lead actress, but ultimately disappointing.

Verdict: Poor