Edgar Wright is afraid of his own horror film
“There are some very dark themes in this movie that constrain me, disturb me and still haunt me today,” he says of “Last Night in Soho”
Posted on October 27, 2021
British director and screenwriter Edgar Wright is best known for his action comedies like Baby Driver and Scott Pilgrim vs the world, so the new psychological thriller Last night in Soho marks a big departure for him.
Last night in Soho follows aspiring fashion designer Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), who is mysteriously transported to the 1960s, where she meets dazzling aspiring singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy). However, the glamor of the ’60s and neon dreams of the past begin to fade as Eloise realizes that there is something much darker lurking.
Wright came up with the concept for the film about a decade ago and finally felt it was the right time to do it. His big inspiration was his obsession with the 60s which started at a young age because of his parents’ record collection. Speak to exclaim! on Zoom, he said, “They had a box of records that were just ’60s records and they seemed to stop dead when my brother was born. It looked like they hadn’t bought any records from the’ 60s. ’70s – they just had like a box of 60 records, which they didn’t seem to really listen to anymore. And I did, from the age of six. “
He continues, “I was born in 1974, so having this ongoing nostalgia and time travel fantasy about going back to the ’60s, I thought about it a lot. So much about time travel?’ Then you kind of have to ask yourself if longing in itself is a failure to cope with the present. Do you think so much about the past because you can’t cope with the modern world? This is the thing that has. started to kind of make me think about the danger of romanticizing the past. It started to inspire the idea of stepping back in time, but something that is essentially a glamorous and alluring dream turns into a nightmare. “
He notes a few key differences that separate Last night in Soho other well-known time travel films: “[In] Back to the future, Marty McFly can change the outcome of modern times. But in this film, Thomasin McKenzie is powerless to prevent future events. And that, for me, is a nightmare. “
Wright believes that the key to creating a powerful psychological thriller or horror stems from internal fears, because it has to be something that is deeply disturbing you. “I think you must be scared of the subject, or scared of making the movie, which I was – which was probably one of the reasons it took me 10 years,” he says of the slow genesis of the film. “Because I think if you do a psychological thriller or a horror movie and none of that scares you, it’ll probably end up being a pretty complacent movie. So there are some very dark themes in this movie that oblige, disturb and still haunt me today, I think that’s the key to it all: it has to be something that scares you.
One of the biggest trademarks of Wright’s films is his stellar soundtracks. In Last night in Soho, the music is almost like a central figure, transporting audiences seamlessly between the 60s and modern times. According to Wright, putting together the soundtrack for this film was a dream come true.
“Much of the soundtrack is made up of female singers from that period… the mid-sixties,” he says. “There were so many amazing British singers: Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw. I was very aware that they were always bittersweet; they always came up with these big, moving ballads, but they’re still stained. tears. That says a lot about their tone. Even something like [Clark’s chart-topping 1964 single] “Downtown” – there is a melancholy side. So that’s something I really wanted … to have these songs in the movie. “
Wright describes the songs as a time machine that takes Eloise back to the ’60s, and he laughs as he draws parallels to when he listened to his parents’ record collection and it would take him back to a time before he was born.
The film brings in score elements that give the upbeat song placements a twist, with an edgy sound that matches the film’s darker scenes. For this, Wright attributes to the composer Steven Price. He cites Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet on a String” as a key musical moment in Last night in Soho. “It’s in a scene where Anya Taylor-Joy is a showgirl, but obviously not having fun at all,” he says. “The reason I picked this song was because it was Sandie Shaw’s biggest hit, but she hated that song. The lyrics were sexist nonsense. So I always thought that was it. was interesting, it’s this singer’s biggest hit and she hates it. And I thought that was exactly the song for this track where you see Anya doing something under duress. “
He is also excited about the inclusion of the Graham Bond Organization’s live cover of the spiritual classic “Wade in the Water”, which plays during a big dance number.
“I never tire of listening to this,” he enthuses. “And that coupled with the scene, it’s like I’ve known this song for years. It would be the kind of song where I hear the song, and I could visualize the scene in my head. So it’s almost like nice as a movie version of synesthesia. You know, you kind of hear the song and you kind of can see it. For it to actually exist as a scene is a pretty powerful experience – for me anyway. ”