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Film / Last Night in Soho

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"Do you believe in ghosts?"
Eloise Turner

Last Night in Soho is a British Psychological Horror film directed by Edgar Wright and written by Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns.

Eloise Turner, a young Country Mouse who has just moved to London to study fashion design, finds herself transported back to The '60s in her dreams, where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it appears, and her dreams soon begin to manifest in her waking hours…

The film stars Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy, with Matt Smith and Terence Stamp in supporting roles. The film also includes the final roles of both Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan, who both passed away in 2020.

After several pushbacks due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it premiered on 5th September 2021 at the Venice International Film Festival, and was released on October 29, 2021, by Focus Features and Universal Pictures.

Previews: Official Trailer.

♫For last night in Soho, I let these tropes go...♫:

  • The '60s: The era Eloise visits in her dreams. One of the film's big money shots is of Eloise standing in front of a theater that advertises screenings of the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball in the era's grand fashion. However, the film also emphasizes the less glamourous Values Dissonance (and Values Resonance) between the eras, particularly in regards to the treatment of young women.invoked
  • Abhorrent Admirer: In the nightclub scene where Sandie meets Jack, she gets pestered by an obnoxious older man who Jack later smacks for calling Sandie a slut.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Ms. Collins/Sandie decides to end her life by waiting for the fire to consume her in the building. Ellie tries to stop her and convince her to not do it even after Ms. Collins/Sandie attempted to murder her and John. The scene is treated as tragic as Ms. Collins/Sandie by the end of the day was just a young girl who came to Soho to follow her dreams but was abused and taken advantage by men like Jack. Ms. Collins/Sandie's murder of Jack and the other men was just her getting revenge on the people that abused and took advantage of her.
    • Briefly near the end, it appears the movie is going for this when all of Sandie's victims begin begging Eloise to help them...but only for a moment as the help they want is for her to help them get revenge on Sandie for killing them. As they were all possibly sexual predators, she quickly rejects them and a short time later agrees with the now elderly Sandie that they got what they deserved.
  • Alien Geometries: Featured in some of Eloise's visions. The entities that attack her seem to shatter wood floors and concrete walls like glass, and when Ms. Collins chases a drugged Eloise up the stairs, Eloise hallucinates that the staircase is made of glass, floating in a shifting red void.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Defied by Ellie who tells John to go look for her if she doesn't return from her apartment after 15 minutes. When she indeed doesn't, now in the fangs of Ms. Collins, John rings the bell and brings the Evil Plan down.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jocasta, Eloise's initial roommate, who quickly establishes herself as the head of a group of the new fashion students while openly antagonizing Eloise, mocking her background and bullying her in class.
  • AM/FM Characterization: Eloise enjoys music of the 1960s, such as The Kinks, Dusty Springfield, and Cilla Black.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Jocasta smirkingly hands Ellie a cocktail at the Halloween party. When the police ask Ellie if anyone might have spiked her drink, she instantly flashes back that moment. It's never resolved whether or not Jocasta was playing a prank on her or if Ellie's hallucinations were just more of her standard visions.
  • Analogy Backfire: When Jocasta is talking about the prestige of becoming a One Name Only celebrity, she makes the comparison of Kylie. Eloise guesses Minogue, but she meant Jenner, and awkwardly concedes that was a bad example.
  • Arc Words: "You know where to find me."
  • Asshole Victim: Jack and all the men that took advantage of Sandie met fittingly grisly ends.
  • Attention Whore: When Eloise talks about how her mother committed suicide, with the other students seeming sympathetic, Jocasta immediately tries to steal the spotlight by mentioning that she understands what Eloise went through because she had a great-uncle who killed himself.
    • Interestingly, later on in the film Eloise overhears Jocasta accusing her of being one when she brought up her mother's suicide, however, the latter seems completely oblivious to the fact Eloise was asked about the circumstances of her mother's death, whereas Jocasta just brought up her family member's suicide completely unprovoked, making her come across as a massive hypocrite.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: How Sandie blocks Jack's knife attack. It leaves a huge scar on her palm.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: Done twice to poor Eloise:
    • At a pub toilet, Eloise overhears her roommate and friends bitch about her. It makes her decide to move out of the sorority.
    • Later, during her visit to the police station, she overhears the police officer joking about her statement from inside the men's bathroom while she sips from a water dispenser in the corridor.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Eloise specifically says "If I could live any place in any time, I'd live here, in London. In the sixties." She does get to do exactly that before things go From Bad to Worse.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In the climax, Ms. Collins decides to perish in the blaze that consumes her home rather than face justice for the many men she killed in the 1960s.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jack at first comes off as a smooth, debonair '60s manager who's willing to help Sandie find a shot in Soho's clubs. That lasts for maybe ten minutes before he's revealed to be an abusive, manipulative pimp that suckers Sandie into his stable of women.
  • Blade Reflection: When Eloise hallucinates about the murders, one shot shows the reflection of her scared face on the knife's blade.
  • The Blank: The ghosts haunting Ellie have blurred faces with no recognisable features, giving them a very eerie appearance. They turn out to be the men who sexually abused Sandie and whom she later murdered. When Sandie admits this to Ellie, she says that blanking out their faces in her mind was the only way for her to endure the abuse, and seeing them as faceless entities rather than actual people made it easier for her to kill them. It's only when Sandie finally sees their true faces that she realises what her pursuit of vengeance has turned her into.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first shot of the film shows Eloise lit from behind as she stands in a doorway. The epilogue of the film starts with a similar shot, this time for a model wearing one of Eloise's dresses at a fashion show.
    • In the first scene, Eloise receives a letter (informing her she's gotten into fashion school). In the conclusion, she receives another which leads to her discovering that Mrs Collins is Sandie.
    • When Ellie and Sandie see themselves for the first time as reflections in the lobby mirror of the Cafe de Paris, they both tab their finger on the mirror. They do the same in the last shot of the movie.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Eloise believes she should have grown up in the 1960s and is deeply nostalgic for the era. As a teenager in the modern era, she was presumably born in the early 2000s. The movie is about her finding out the darker parts of the era.
  • Brick Joke: When Jocasta talks about Ellie and her tragic backstories, the other two girls in the dorm react to each story by saying that they are "so brave." At the very end, both girls congratulate Ellie for her successful show by again saying that she's "so brave."
  • Broken Aesop: Played with more nuance than it might appear:
    • The film has a powerful message about how women are too often dismissed and disregarded by authority figures as hysterical... that it undermines its climax. When Ellie goes to the police to report Sandie's killing by Jack, the officer doesn't believe a word, asking if she has a history of schizophrenia, if she was drugged, and if she's experimented with hallucinogens before outright dismissing her. Except he's right: the murder she's claiming occurred never happened. Eloise was delusional, her vision of Sandie's murder was at best her misinterpreting one of her visions and at worst a bona fide hallucination from being drugged by Jocasta. Furthermore, Eloise goes full You Have to Believe Me!, but all she can offer in the way of proof boils down to Suspect Is Hatless and claiming that she saw ghosts enact it in a psychic vision. Granted, the cop was Right For The Wrong Reason, but then it further turns out that the real murderer was in fact Sandie herself, further undermining the film's message.
    • However, the characters so far were antipathetic to Eloise at best and unnerving to her at worst (sans John), with few reliable authority figures who are capable of understanding her situation. The film's ending, with Eloise having a successful career, means that even if she was hampered down due to mental illness or supernatural visions, she still triumphed at the end. It helps that her last vision was of Sandie, and by that point she's fully aware of her past troubles, with the entire case chalked up to a burning house with a presumably unwell old lady who might've had a run in with the cops before.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Implied by The Silver Haired Gentleman though it turns out to be less malevolent than implied, as he isn't actually an elderly Jack.
    Eloise: I know what you did.
    Silver Haired Gentleman: I've done a lot of things. You're gonna have to be more specific, love.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Rita Tushingham plays Eloise's Granny, who moved to London decades previously, but now lives in Cornwall after it went wrong, which is a reference to Tushingham's role as a Country Mouse who moves to London in the 1960s film The Knack... and How to Get It.
    • Diana Rigg plays a singer who was pimped out in her youth by Jack as a young woman in the 1960s, which may be a (dark) commentary on Rigg's roles as a sex symbol in her 1960s work as Emma Peel, a legacy with which Rigg herself was uncomfortable.
    • Wright has mentioned that the 1960s Poor Cow was a major inspiration for Last Night In Soho, where Terence Stamp plays a boyfriend turned violent pimp, which is also exactly the character of Jack. Except that, despite Ellie's assumptions, Stamp is not the older Jack; he's actually Officer Lindsay, a vice cop who tried to help Sandie.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Performed by Eloise whenever the alarm clock wakes her from one of her intense dreams.
  • The Chanteuse: Sandie is a professional nightclub singer. Or at least she would like to be, but her manager Jack ends up getting her jobs at seedy cabarets and begins to pimp her out to powerful men.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The landline that only makes emergency calls becomes plot-relevant in the climax, though Ellie doesn't actually use it, and the fire makes it moot.
  • Commonality Connection: Jocasta is pleased to hear that Eloise also lost her mother so they eventually found common ground as roommates.
  • Costume Porn: As befitting a film partly set in The '60s and centered on a wannabe singer and fashion designer.
  • Country Mouse: Eloise grew up in Cornwall, where her grandmother still lives, and moves to London to go to the London College of Fashion. The first act of the film primarily deals with the culture clash she experiences.
  • Creepy Good: The Silver Haired Gentleman scares Ellie so much she is convinced he is Sandie's abusive pimp/murderer, but it turns out he was actually the cop who tried to help her.
  • Creepy Red Herring: The Silver-Haired Gentleman has an unsettlingly familiar demeanor with Ellie and she soon suspects he is Jack, Sandie's abusive pimp, in the present day. These suspicions are proven incorrect after he is (possibly fatally) wounded in a car accident and the bartender vouches for him and confirms that he is a former police officer named Lindsey.
  • Dance of Romance: Sandie (and to a lesser extent Eloise) becomes enamored with Jack after dancing with him at the Cafe de Paris. Subverted when it turns out that Jack never loved her at all. The trope is played a little bit straighter later when Eloise and John dance at a Halloween party shortly before their First Kiss - her visions of the ghosts of the 1960s do a lot to ruin the mood over the course of the night but don't kill their burgeoning romance.
  • Dark Reprise: Cilla Black's "You're My World" features in a glorifying context during Ellie's first vision of Sandie, but it returns in a haunting context as Sandie/Miss Collins attempts to kill Ellie in the climax. Sandie's rendition of the song as she stalks with a knife colors the loving lyrics as an obsessive Murder Ballad ("you're every breath I take"), while the violin from the song now sounds more like full-blown "Psycho" Strings. The song shifts back into Cilla's rendition, but remains dark due to being ironically and tragically joyous against the struggle and the full picture of Sandie's life.
  • Deranged Taxi Driver: The taxi driver taking Ellie from the train station to her living quarters gets increasingly more creepy so Ellie decides to drop off earlier where she hides in a shop to wait until the driver has vanished.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Anya Taylor-Joy's performance of "Downtown" used in the trailer of the film.
  • Disposing of a Body: Sandie hid her murder victims behind the wall and under the floorboards of the house.
  • Does Not Like Men: Ms Collins has a rule about bringing men back to the bedsit, and seems to dislike them in general. Turns out she was a serial killer who specifically targeted men.
  • Door Handle Scare: When Eloise is with John in her room and starts panicking, the camera zooms in on the door lock as Ms. Collins rattles on it from the outside.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Every time Eloise goes to sleep, she awakens in the 1960s, in Sandie's body.
  • Dream Within a Dream: At one point, Eloise wakes from a dream and believes to be in her bedroom. Then it's revealed she is in another dream with an older man grabbing her arm. Only then does she wake up in her room.
  • Engineered Heroics: After Jack is revealed to be an abusive pimp, he's shown to actually be on good terms with the man who harassed Sandie the night he met her, implying his fight with him was actually this trope.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Eloise tries this on the older man she's convinced is Jack, recording him as he talks about Sandie. But then it turns out he isn't, and she never gets to use it.
  • Everybody Loves Blondes: Sandie cultivates this image - as a vampy, sultry blonde with bold confidence. Ellie firmly believes in it too, dyeing her mousy brown hair blonde to look more like the beautiful Sandie. Of course, she turns out to be extremely naive and the "love" to be manipulative and eventually abusive.
  • Everything Has Rhythm: In the opening Happy Dance scene, Eloise is partner-dancing with a dress form in her room.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Ellie first gets an Important Haircut to become blonde and with a fringe resembling Sandie. It's initially worn in a Bridget Bardot-style blowout, but is grows increasingly straighter and more unkempt as the horror continues. In the epilogue, she's reverted to brown, but with a slightly more contemporary version of the 1960s blowout.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job:
    • Sandie is implied to have become a prostitute full time after murdering Jack.
    • Ellie likewise takes up work as a barmaid to afford to live at the bedsit after leaving her student accommodation (and spending over £300 on a new hairstyle and wardrobe).
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Zigzagged, We see Sandie performing as a showgirl in a skimpy outfit, but the context of performing for a group of sleazy, middle-aged men in a dingy nightclub as well as her own clear discomfort.
    • Horrifyingly played straight with the subsequent scene depicting Sandie's sex work. While she is engaging in various sex acts in skimpy outfits, it is accompanied by dirty old men, emotional breakdowns, and her descent into drug addiction, all while Jack screams offscreen about how much he owns her.
  • Fan of the Past: Eloise is an overt fan of the 1960s.
  • Fauxshadow: Eloise comes to believe that the Silver Haired Gentleman is a now elderly Jack, aka the man who pimped out and abused Sandie. It turns out that he was actually police officer who tried to help Sandie get away from the downward spiral she was in.
  • Fish out of Water: Eloise is a timid wannabe fashion designer in London.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • When Eloise is confronting the Silver Haired Gentleman, accusing him of killing Sandie, the Gentleman says "She was too good for the life she was in", which is exactly what the cop in '60s Soho said to Sandie. This immediately hints that the Gentleman is not Jack. He also says he's "tired of this line of questioning", which is a very cop phrase.
    • The pile of letters Eloise flips through at the end shows a letter addressed to "Alexandra Collins", a reveal that happens just before it's revealed that Ms. Collins is Sandie.
  • Flawless Token: John is the only Black man in the film, a complete Nice Guy who tries to help Ellie and believes her about her psychic visions.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Eloise is almost hit by a taxi several times. The Silver-Haired Gentleman isn't so lucky.
    • When Sandie and Jack first meet in the Cafe de Paris, Sandie is called a whore by the man who first approached her who she rejected. Jack punches him out and he and Sandie run out of the club ahead of security. If the man knows Jack, and knows he's a pimp, then it follows that he genuinely thought Sandie was a prostitute (not that it makes him any less of a jerk).
    • A police officer questions if Eloise had her drink spiked at the Halloween party. We never find out for certain if she had, but she is given laced tea in the film's climax.
    • When Eloise is looking for info on women murdered in the '60s, she instead finds many articles on men who went missing or were found dead. These men are later revealed to be victims of Sandie after they abused her during her time as a prostitute.
      • In addition, during the library scene, one of the ghosts faintly yells "Help".
    • During the marionette sequence, we get a shot of Jack talking with his mates, just as we hear the lyrics "Just who's pulling the strings".
    • When Eloise confronts the Silver Haired Gentleman thinking he is Jack and that he killed Sandie, he says "Alex killed Sandie". He is referring to Ms. Collins, whose first name is Alexandra and was Sandie in her youth. She later tells Eloise that Sandie did die in her bedroom, but it was more of a metaphorical death for Alexandra losing who she was as Sandie and becoming a murderer.
    • Early in the film when Eloise tries to talk to Ms. Collins about a possible murder that occurred in her room, Ms. Collins almost dismissively talks about how people die everywhere around London. This foreshadows the fact that Ms. Collins was really Sandie committing the murders in the room. Lots of them, actually.
    • When Ms. Collins is showing Eloise the room she comments on a bad smell in the summer and blames the drains — in reality, it's on account of the bodies hidden in the floor and walls.
    • Ms. Collins' adamant attitude about not having men in the room at night time nor having a male tenant becomes clear when you realize she was Sandie and had all those horrible experiences in the room from Jack pimping her out.
    • After Ms. Collins mistakes John for attacking Eloise, she casually remarks to Eloise that she would have "killed" him if she had been in that situation herself. Following the reveal, it becomes apparent that she was not being hyperbolic.
    • The Silver Haired Gentleman telling Eloise that Sandie was not some innocent girl ultimately foreshadows that Sandie was really the one that not only killed Jack, but also committed multiple other murders.
    • To foreshadow the fact that Soho is gradually revealed in-story to be a red-light district that preys upon female dreamers, the transitions to the visions of the past are cued by flashing lights outside Ellie's room, which go between blue, white, and red, with red shining at the moment of the switch. This would have been more obvious with a working title for the film, "Red Light Area".
    • We see that Ellie's mother stays with her as a ghost in her home, and as the London visions progress and darken, Eloise becomes increasingly desperate to interact with Sandie and communicate with her to no avail. That Sandie never seems to truly see Ellie and acknowledge her first seems like a consequence of being on a different plane, but the male ghosts contrast Sandie by actively stalking Ellie. At the end of the film, it turns out the difference is based on the fact that the men are dead spirits and Sandie is just a memory of someone still alive, rather than the reverse being the case. Ellie's mother and the behavior of the different spirits indicated that memories can't reach out to or see Ellie while the dead can.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Near the end of the film, Ms. Collins directs Eloise to a pile of unsorted mail. A letter showing Ms. Collins' first name, Alexandra, appears for a split-second at the top of the pile, but Eloise quickly moves it aside to get her own letter. Eloise finally notices this letter after The Reveal.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: After her self-defense killing of Jack, Sandie became a Serial Killer, bringing her abusers to her room and killing each of them.
  • Get Out!: Ms. Collins shouts this at John when she finds him in Eloise's room.
  • Giallo: The film borrows a lot of its look, narrative beats, and style from the giallo films made by Dario Argento and Mario Bava. Ellie seeing Sandie being murdered but it turning out to be Sandie doing the killing herself is also very similar to the plot twist in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
  • Gilligan Cut: Ellie earnestly tells Ms. Collins that she would never just disappear from her living space in the middle of the night. We then cut to Ellie ditching her dorm room in the middle of the night without telling anyone.
  • Good All Along: Eloise mistakes the old man for the violent pimp, Jack but he turns out to be Lindsay, the friendly cop who had tried to help Sandie at the bar.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Sandie's flowing pink dress that she wears on the night she meets Jack. A subplot in the film concerns Eloise's efforts to recreate said dress in the present day.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: Sandie's entrance to Cafe de Paris is shot this way with the other guests watching her descend the stairs into the main hall.
  • Hand of Death: During Ms. Collins' Just Between You and Me speech to Ellie, we see a shot of a raised hand with a knife in it.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Jocasta, Eloise's classmate and former roommate in accommodation, initially puts on a friendly front, but is soon revealed to be an arrogant bully who openly belittles Eloise and her fashion sense. She isn't a villainous abuser like Jack, or a murderer like Sandie, but Jocasta is still an unrepentant Jerkass and doesn't get any better as the film goes on.
    • Once he shows his true colors, Jack is little more than a reprehensible pimp who repeatedly abuses Sandie while yelling slurs at her. Absolutely no one feels remotely sad when Sandie kills him in self-defense.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Ellie's alienation at the student quarters is expressed by her wearing headphones while the other students are partying around her.
  • He Knows Too Much: After the police officer visits Ms. Collins in regards to Eloise's visions, Ms. Collins decides to kill her to prevent her from realizing she's a serial killer. She also attempts to kill John when he comes in to check on her.
  • Hereditary Suicide: Eloise's mother committed suicide when she was a child, and Eloise fears the same thing happening to her as she undergoes Sanity Slippage. Thankfully it doesn't.
  • Homage:
    • The shot of Eloise running into the red-lit restaurant in the heavy rain with wet hair is reproduced from Suspiria (1977).
    • The scene of Eloise on one side of the mirror and seeing Sandie as her reflection is very reminiscent of the mirror scene in Duck Soup.
    • Eloise seemingly witnessing Sandie's murder only for it to actually be Sandie committing the murder is a plot device used several times by Dario Argento, most notably in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
    • The hands of Sandie's victims crashing through the walls and grabbing Eloise is a homage to Repulsion, which Wright has stated in interviews to have been a major inspiration for his film.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Jocasta casually says that Ellie losing her father earlier than Jocasta did was "probably easier," she then corrects herself by saying that "it's not a competition." Immediately afterward, when Ellie's story of her mother's suicide overshadows Jocasta's own sob story, she immediately claims that her distant relative also committed suicide so that she can compete with Ellie for sympathy.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Although Jocasta is a mean-spirited Alpha Bitch, she's not in the wrong for calling security when a hallucinating Eloise almost stabs her with a pair of scissors.
    • Likewise, even though the police officers Eloise goes to laugh at her claims that she knows something about a murder in the '60s, they also have good reason to be skeptical of the idea that she's having genuine psychic visions; even when the officers mock her later on, they raise the legitimate point that her suspect being "an old man who goes to The Toucan" isn't much of a clue to base an investigation on.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Sandie's murder of Jack was in self-defense, but all the ones after that...
  • Just Between You and Me: Once Ellie has sipped from the sedated Calming Tea, Ms. Collins opens up about her identity and the murders believing that Ellie will take that knowledge to her grave.
  • Karma Houdini: Jocasta is an unapologetic, shallow Alpha Bitch who talks about Ellie behind her back, makes jokes about her mother's suicide, and may have even spiked her drink at the Halloween party. At the end of the movie, she receives no comeuppance for her cruelty, though there seems to be break between her and her two dorm mates, who are now friendly to Ellie. Although it could be partially subverted in the sense that Eloise has clearly become the star of the design school at the end of the movie. Jocasta is shown on the sidelines as a Green-Eyed Monster over the attention and praise Ellie is getting. She was supposed to hug Ellie and it was filmed that way, implying they became friends in the Time Skip, but test audiences disliked that.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: Sandie's killing of Jack, who came at her with a knife.
  • Living Shadow: These entities show up constantly in the second half.
  • Long Last Look: Eloise gives one to her bedroom before leaving for London.
  • Look Both Ways: The Silver Haired Gentleman is run over by a car in the street because he turned his back to the traffic to talk to Ellie.
  • Mating Dance: Sandie and Jack's first dance is quite sexual.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Are Eloise's visions are supernatural phenomena or simple hallucinations caused by a combination of her nostalgia for the '60s, pressure of big city, her sensitive personality and "legacy" of her mother? While the crime she sees is confirmed to have unambiguously happened, if not in the way she expected, the movie doesn't state definitely why she sees it.
  • Mental Time Travel: Eloise apparently travels back in time to the swinging '60s, though merely as an observer whose perspective is limited to Sandie's memories.
  • Meta Casting: The presence of Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan in the film is quite apt, considering they were known sex symbols in British media of the 1960s, and the former was quite reluctantly so. The latter also had a second career as a visual artist, in which she would grotesque or deconstruct her sex symbol image, which is quite apt considering the film's third act.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Eloise asks Ms. Collins if anyone had died in her room and her response was basically that a city with a LONG history like London that someone has likely died in every room in every building. Eloise then tries searching for a specific murder sometime in the 1960s but is quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume. The 'naturally' high death/disappearance rate in 1960s London even managed to effectively disguise a highly prolific Serial Killer, even when Eloise's looking right at the victims.
  • Mirror Scare: At one point in the film, Sandie shows up in place of Eloise's reflection with a slit throat and blood running down her chest. Most of the blood isn't hers.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: An odd variation — Sandie is sometimes Eloise's reflection while Eloise is sometimes Sandie's. The point of view switches between the two, sometimes mid-scene. In the climax, this effect occurs with Ms. Collins after it's revealed that she's an older Sandie, as Eloise's view constantly changes between seeing Sandie's past and present form.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song:
    • A slow cover of "Downtown", which was originally performed by British pop singer Petula Clark in 1964, is performed by Anya Taylor-Joy herself in the trailer. In this case, though, the song is taken from the film itself.
    • The second trailer makes use of "Starstruck", another song from the '60s, with Anya-Taylor Joy singing the hook during the trailer's title card.
  • The Muse: Sandie becomes an inspiration to Ellie in her fashion designs.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ms. Collins/Sandie attempts to kill Ellie and John in the film's climax to prevent the truth about the murders she committed from coming out, but when she's confronted with a vision of her victims, she's overcome with remorse, spares Ellie and John, and chooses to die in the burning house rather than go to prison for her crimes.
  • Naïve Newcomer:
    • Despite her self-assured, sultry presentation, Sandie is quickly revealed to be completely and tragically out of her depth. She walks into a popular club, asks to see the owner for an audition despite having no appointment or previous experience, falls for the first man who isn't an obvious creep to her, and ends up in a dead end job at a cabaret while the aforementioned man pimps her out to his friends. And she didn't suspect a thing until it was too late.
    • Eloise is also a more obvious example, as a timid young Country Mouse who starts the film like a Disney Princess literally dancing around the house in a homemade dress. She is hopelessly naive as to what life in London is actually like, namely just how expensive it actually is. On a darker note, it also doesn't occur to her that someone suffering from I See Dead People moving to what was once the murder capital of London might be a bad idea for one's mental health. Or that shouting to everyone who can hear about a murder might spur the killer to take action.
  • Near-Death Experience: Ellie is almost hit by a car a handful of times, to the point where it almost becomes a Running Gag. Averted when the Silver Haired Gentleman is struck while talking to her in the middle of the street.
  • Neon City: Soho's neon lights are emphasized throughout the movie and many of its posters (even the title is sometimes rendered in neon). It's presented a very dangerous place to be, what with all the men creeping on girls, serial murders and ghosts.
  • Never Heard That One Before: The montage of Sandie getting increasingly annoyed by all her Johns responding with the same line "That's a loverly name."
  • Never Mess with Granny: After mistaking John for an attempted rapist, Ms. Collins tells Eloise that she would have murdered him if she was in Ellie's position. She isn't being theoretical. She actually tries it later.
  • Never Suicide: Ms. Collins attempts to stage her poisoning of Ellie as the suicide of a madwoman.
  • Nice Guy: John is a kindhearted young man who goes out of his way to support Eloise even as her mental state begins to fracture.
  • No Kill like Overkill: Ms. Collins mentions that she killed Jack by stabbing him a hundred times.
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be: Ellie is full of idolization for the '60s, based off her grandmother's own nostalgia for the time. Indeed, the first two flashbacks to Sandie's life just show off the music and fashion, only for the sexism and vice of the time to be revealed.
  • Old Flame: Lindsay clearly held a torch for Sandie, and the basis of his affection for Eloise was on the belief that she was her granddaughter.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Eloise sees a vision of Sandie being killed and starts researching murders in the 1960s, all while dealing with specters of the various men who called on her. When she discovers that Ms. Collins is Sandie, she realizes the screams, stabbing motions, and being covered in blood were not from her being stabbed but from her killing all those men.
  • Open-Door Opening: The movie starts with Eloise opening a door and her dancing down a hallway.
  • Pastiche: Of giallo. There's the red-and-blue color scheme, casual sexism, a scene which homages The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and a mystery that turns out not to be the one the protagonist or the audience expected.
  • Perfect Poison: Subverted. Ms Collins spikes Ellie's tea with something that makes her go drowsy after a few minutes. But once Ellie realises what's happening, she's still able to struggle up the stairs and get away from her. Although since Ms Collins was planning to make it look like a suicide, it might not have been poison, but just a sedative. Whatever it was, she appears to make a full recovery thanks to timely arrival by the paramedics.
  • The Place / Time Title: Subverted as the title has no direct meaning to the story. It's actually not set during a night in Soho, but named after a song.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Jocasta expresses her condolence when Eloise mentions she is from Cornwall.
  • Poisoned Drink Drop: In the climax, Ellie drops her cup of tea once the sedative takes effect.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted. When Eloise tells the police about her vision of the murder, one of the detectives immediately laughs it off. However, another of the detectives does consider what Eloise said, even though she notes that there's very little to go off of, since Eloise is making accusations based on dreams, with very few clear-cut clues, and takes the time to drop by the place she lives to check on Eloise's mental health.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: The walls of Eloise's room in the opening scene are covered with movie posters of the 1960s.
  • Predatory Prostitute: Alexandra, a.k.a. Sandie, is forced into prostitution by her pimp Jack. She stabs him to death in self-defense after he threatens her and either rapes her or tries to rape her. After that, she moves into killing her clients full time, brutally stabbing them and continuing to hide their bodies under her floorboards. When Eloise finds out, she expresses zero remorse, although Eloise admits that the clients were predators themselves and says that they deserved what they got.
  • Product Placement: A whole minor plot thread is devoted to cans of Coca-Cola, which are shown in close up several times.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Sandie's flashbacks recount her journey from naïve and overconfident dreamer to jaded prostitute to vengeful serial killer.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Subtly invoked. The innocent Cilla Black song "You're My World", which is used in the film, has notable and perhaps jarring high-pitched string stings in the instrumentation. These strings are ultimately reframed in the classic "Psycho" association when Miss Collins/Sandie tries to stab Ellie on the staircase with a knife while the vision of Sandie sings a haunting cover of "You're My World".
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Sandie breaks the mirror in her dressing room with her fist out of frustration over not getting the main act that she wanted to have.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Eloise was raised by her grandmother because she never met her father and her mother died when she was seven.
  • Rape and Revenge: Jack pimped Sandie out to men, which drove her to kill them and put their bodies under her floorboards.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: Being pimped out by Jack drove Sandie insane and to kill Jack, after he either tried to rape and/or kill her, and then many men for decades.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Sandie wasn't murdered by Jack; Ellie saw Sandie slash Jack's throat, and it's his blood all over her.
  • Ring-Ring-CRUNCH!: Eloise smashes her alarm clock after waking from another of her haunting dreams.
  • Running Gagged: Eloise keeps running out in front of traffic, often in front of cabs, which only just stop in time. However, when the Silver-Haired Gentleman finally reveals too much, he walks out in the road and is struck by a car.
  • Sanity Slippage: Eloise's mental state begins to fracture as she discovers just how traumatic Sandie's life is. She completely loses it after witnessing Sandie's (apparent) murder, to the point of hallucinating in public and almost accidentally shanking Jocasta with a pair of scissors in a fit of insanity.
  • Satellite Love Interest: John doesn't have much of a character arc or even a complex personality apart from being an incredibly Nice Guy who cares for Eloise.
  • Scary Black Man: Subverted by Eloise's classmate John. After dodging the aggressively creepy advances of a cabbie, Ellie obviously comes to an ungenerous conclusion when a black man loitering on the corner outside of a liquor store makes an unsolicited offer to "help" with her luggage, and she sternly refuses his unsolicited offer. It later turns out that she's his classmate and he's a perfectly nice man.
  • Serial Killer: Sandie turned to serial murder of all of her abusers after killing Jack in self-defense, hiding their bodies in the floorboards.
  • Shadow Archetype: Both Eloise and Sandie for each other. Eloise is shy, creative, and frightened to be out in the world and close to men. Sandie is apparently a worldly and desirable young woman who has everything Eloise wants...apparently. However, in actual fact, Sandie is arguably even more naive than Eloise, just more confident. Both of them also contemplate violent revenge, which Sandie actually carries out.
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: The film is so steeped in the threat of male violence that both Eloise and the audience are inclined to regard her friendly, helpful classmate John with suspicion at first. He really is just a Nice Guy who wants to keep an eye out for a fellow misfit, though, and ends up as an impressively Understanding Boyfriend.
  • Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: The Silver-Haired Gentleman is an apparently predatory creep who scares Eloise and causes her to suspect that he killed Sandie. In actual fact, he's a former police officer who was trying to help her. The trope is also used in Ellie's flashbacks to Sandie's life, when the man first approaches her among a long string of johns and seems to be one of them until he tries to warn her about the danger she's in.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sandie's name (and the spelling) seems to be a reference to Sandie Shaw, also a 1960s singer who wore a lot of pink swing dresses.
    • The name of the club in which the Halloween party is held, "Inferno", is designed in the exact same font as on the poster for Dario Argento's Inferno (1980).
    • Jocasta and her friends dress up like characters from The Craft for a Halloween party.
    • Alongside the homages, Sandie and Ellie's white mac is a more subtle Shout-Out to Repulsion.
    • The climax is very similar to the Roald Dahl story The Landlady. Possibly combined with the story of H.H. Holmes.
  • Shower of Angst: A variant where Eloise is seen cowering in her empty bathtub after having experienced the first horror visions of the killings.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Eloise begins the movie dressed in a more old-fashioned and conservative style, wearing layered clothing which she designed herself, showing her characterization as an innocent Country Mouse. After a cold reception from her more cosmopolitan classmates, and her dreams of Sandie's memories, she copies Sandie's appearance by dying her hair blond, embracing bolder colors and buying a white trenchcoat. When the dreams become more unsettling and cause a degree of Sanity Slippage, Eloise begins to take on a Looks Like Cesare aesthetic, with dark eyeliner contrasting with her pale skin. In the film's final scene, she reverts to her original brunette hairstyle, but paired with a red top, suggesting that she's adapted elements of Sandie's boldly colored and seductive style without fully trying to copy it, underscoring how she's matured beyond her nostalgia for the Sixties. The use of red also links her with her visions of her mother, who appears in mirrors dressed in a red sweater.
    • Sandie also experiences a wardrobe shift, albeit one subtler than Eloise's, with her outfits becoming increasingly more revealing to reflect her objectification by Jack. After her death, her ghost returns wearing the pink dress she was most comfortable in.
  • Slashed Throat: What Sandie did to some of her abusers. She also tries to kill herself this way at the end but Ellie intervenes.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Jocasta, Eloise's classmate, drops her surname before they've even started their first day at the fashion school, because she believes her first name alone will one day be an iconic fashion brand.
  • Smash to Black: The film ends with this as Eloise approaches a vision of Sandie in a mirror and both tap the mirror with their finger.
  • Smile of Approval: Ellie's successful fashion show at the end garners three: one from Jocasta (implying she now respects her), one from her mother's ghost, and one from 60s!Sandie appearing in a mirror.
  • So Proud of You: In the final scene after Ellie's successful fashion show, her grannie tells her that her mother would have been proud of her accomplishments.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Starstruck" by The Kinks underscores Eloise's unhappy first night in London. Later on, "Land of 1000 Dances" by The Walker Brothers plays as Ellie is dragged screaming into a vision where Jack forces Sandie to dance for prospective clients night after night.
  • Stage Name: Discussed throughout the film. Eloise debates on having her fashion line credited as E. Turner, Eloise Turner, or Ellie Turner. Her roommate Jocasta wants to go Only One Name. Sandie is also Waiting for a Break in the '60s and already shortened her real name Alexandra, but as she is meeting with clients as a prostitute she switches her name with every encounter from Sandy, Sandra, Alexandra, Lexie, and so forth.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: The male police officer Eloise reports Sandie's murder to doesn't take her seriously because all she can provide as a lead on Jack's identity is that he is a patron of "The Toucan".
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Sandie is a serial killer, but her victims are all men who sexually abused her, so Eloise believes they got what they deserved.
  • Synchronization: After observing Sandie and Jack making out in a booth, Eloise finds herself with a hickey on her neck in the morning.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Jack cultivates this image for himself (along with being a Sharp-Dressed Man) to make it easier to seduce and pimp out girls like Sandie.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Attempted when Ms. Collins puts something in Ellie's tea with plans to kill her and pass it off as a suicide. While it makes Ellie very drowsy, once she realises what's happening to her, she's able to push through and fight off her attacker. She appears to suffer no ill effects either, thanks to timely intervention from the paramedics. Granted it's not said if it was poison or just some kind of sedative.
  • Time-Shifted Actor:
    • Anya Taylor-Joy and Diana Rigg play Sandie in the 1960s and the present day, respectively.
    • Sam Claflin appears in one of the flashbacks as a younger version of Officer Lindsay, played in the present narrative by Terence Stamp. The story plays with this, as the viewer is led to believe that Stamp is actually an elderly version of Jack (Matt Smith) only for him to actually be Lindsay.
  • Titled After the Song: The film is named after the song by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, which plays over the end credits.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: During the climax as Ms. Collins, or rather an elderly Sandie, slowly stalks her up the staircase with a knife, Eloise hallucinates that they are in a rather trippy looking void and that Sandie is singing the song the record downstairs is playing.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Sandie and Eloise's landlady Alexandra Collins are the same person.
  • Uncertain Doom: The last we see of The Silver Haired Gentleman is when he is run over by a car. While he doesn't look to be in good shape, and an ambulance arrives soon after, the movie never confirms whether he survived.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: When Eloise confronts the Silver Haired Gentleman, he notes in a threatening tone that he knows where she lives. Subverted when it turns out that the man is actually not the villain.
  • Villain Respect: During the ending, when Eloise's clothing showcase is a major success, Jocasta gives her a very small applause when she returns to the dressing room, though whether it was a genuine grudging applause or just Jocasta being her normal bitchy self can be debated. Jocasta's friends at least give a larger more genuine congratulations to Eloise.
  • Welcome to the Big City: Ellie is thrilled to move to London from her rural home, but it's established she's not used to dealing with big cities and is repeatedly told that London can be "a lot". Sure enough, as soon as she arrives, she gets confronted with a sleazy cab driver making creepy comments towards her, which makes her so uncomfortable that she ditches him.
  • Wham Line:
  • Whole Costume Reference: The white mac that Sandie and Eloise both wear with their heavily coiffed blonde hair seems to be a direct reference to Repulsion.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Eloise comes off as a lunatic to the police officers, not least because she cannot give a proper description of Jack who she believes to be Sandie's killer.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: At one point, Jack gives a hickey to Sandie and when Eloise wakes up, she has a mark in the same spot. This or it's Synchronization.
  • You Talkin' to Me?: In the opening scene, Eloise playfully talks to her reflection in her bedroom mirror. It's a spin on the original Taxi Driver talk by using the subject of wearing a dress instead of carrying a gun.


Video Example(s):



Compare the peppy, brassy "Downtown" of Petula Clark with the version used in the 'Last Night in Soho' trailer, which punctuates it with horror movie shots and lighting.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MoodyTrailerCoverSong

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