“Everything We Know about … ” is Paste’s series of deep dives into the forthcoming projects we’re most excited about. Explore them all here.
For proponents of film auteur theory, the work of director Edgar Wright presents a compelling case study. From his initial breakout in 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, through the rest of the Cornetto Trilogy, and the likes of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Baby Driver, Wright’s films have all seemed to contain a certain signature flair. That flair extends both to the images we see on the screen, via dynamic editing of material most directors would consider transitory or unimportant, and what we hear, via careful sound editing and synchronization of music to visual action, which was especially important in 2017’s Baby Driver. Few directors have ever compiled a filmography that so effortlessly illustrates key principles of visual comedy and the importance (and joy) of the motion in “motion pictures.” Through his first five features, Wright found a niche, and he mastered it.
And so, when you hear that Edgar Wright’s next project is apparently going to be a legitimately “scary” take on psychological thrillers in the vein of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, you really should sit up and take notice. If the action-crime-comedy melange of Baby Driver was described as a minor departure from Wright’s most comfortable comedic-action roots, then Last Night in Soho sounds more like a true fresh start—a film completely unlike anything the director has made before. Sure, Shaun of the Dead is a direct play on George Romero, but comedy obviously wins out over horror. Last Night in Soho, on the other hand? Nothing here seems to suggest the presence of jokes, and that’s an important distinction.
Here, then, is everything we know so far on Wright’s particularly intriguing sixth feature.
Little is known about the specifics of Last Night in Soho’s plot so far, although the title conjures a bit of an Escape From New York vibe. Most telling, in terms of tone, are the pair of chief influences that Wright stated to Empire: Polanski’s Repulsion, and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now.
Both of those films are genuinely harrowing (and very emotional) British psychological thrillers/horror films, which suggests a far more serious tone than anything else Wright has directed to date. Speaking with Empire, Wright shies away from any kind of plot discussion, but he does highlight the difference between being inspired by somewhere you’ve lived versus somewhere you’ve simply spent a lot of time.
“I realized I had never made a film about central London—specifically Soho, somewhere I’ve spent a huge amount of time in the last 25 years,” he said. “With Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead you make movies about places you’ve lived in. This movie is about the London I’ve existed in.”
That distinction, between “lived” and “existed,” could be crucial to Wright’s outlook here. You might say that places where the director has “lived” call to mind thoughts of comfort and having a place to call your own. “The London I’ve existed in,” on the other hand, certainly has a colder feel to it—an impersonal feeling of being just one more lost face in a big, emotionless city. Don’t Look Now is certainly suffused with that kind of feeling, as Donald Sutherland aimlessly wanders Venice in the grip of despair.
Regardless, there’s one more key aspect to the premise that many sites haven’t mentioned: According to Collider, the film takes place in two different eras, the 1960s and the modern day. Does this mean we’re getting two related stories in different epochs? Or is there a supernatural element to this affair, in which the two timelines cross in some way? The plot is thickening.
One person who knows these answers would be Penny Dreadful’s Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-wrote the film with Wright. Her presence also gives us a clue as the darker tone we can expect from Last Night in Soho.
So far, Last Night in Soho can boast three significant castings: Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie.
The 22-year-old Taylor-Joy is poised for another big year as her Hollywood star continues to rise. In 2019 alone she’s already starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass and has four movies that could see release: Radioactive, Playmobil: The Movie, Here Are the Young Men and the long-delayed The New Mutants. Here, she would reportedly be appearing as the lead in the film’s 1960s segments, according to Collider.
Smith, likewise, has kept himself plenty busy since the end of his run on Doctor Who. He’s set to appear in the Spider-Man spin-off Morbius and has already filmed an unannounced role of some kind in Star Wars: Episode IX. On the small screen, he also earned an Emmy nomination for playing Prince Phillip on The Crown. Collider claims that he’d be playing Taylor-Joy’s “manager of sorts” in Last Night in Soho, which makes us wonder if she’s portraying an artist or fashion model of some kind.
We say “fashion model” because of the latest casting, that of 2018 breakout star McKenzie. After impressing in Leave No Trace, she’ll reportedly be playing a fashion student of some kind in the modern day segments of Last Night in Soho, which would give her ample reason to be aware of Taylor-Joy’s character from the 1960s. It seems like a clear way for the two stories to cross paths.
McKenzie’s performance in Leave No Trace was widely praised.
Fun fact: This film will obviously give McKenzie a chance to work with Taylor-Joy, whose breakout 2015 performance in The Witch saw her ALSO playing a character who happened to be named “Thomasin.” Weird, right?
Last Night in Soho is set to start shooting this summer, on location in London’s Soho district. It’s a co-production between Working Title and Focus Features, produced by Wright, Nira Park, and Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
Should all go well, we’d expect to see Last Night in Soho hit theaters in 2020. It’s hard to say what time of year would be an ideal release window, especially given the departure from Wright’s typical action-comedy genre. Certainly, the film will probably represent a bit more of a risk for its studio, but that’s the price of artistic growth.
Unfortunately, that’s all we know about Last Night in Soho for now. Check back as this piece is updated with future breaking news on Edgar Wright’s next film.