Monday, March 13, 2023



I picked up a DVD copy of this film from my local Barnes & Noble not long ago after hearing some intriguing things about it. There is so much to like about this film, especially the incredible art direction and cinematography. It has a unique, imaginative story and a likable lead character. This character, Ellie, is played by Thomasin McKenzie, a talented young actress who was so wonderful a few years ago in LEAVE NO TRACE. Ellie is a young woman from Cornwall who goes to London to study fashion design. She is obsessed with the culture of the 1960's, especially the music. Ellie arrives in London hoping it will be like the so-called Swinging 60's era but is soon disappointed when the reality turns out to be quite different. Ellie is also caught up in memories of her mother, who went to London to study fashion design as well but ended up disillusioned and taking her own life. At times, Ellie sees visions of her mother. This psychic gift soon leads her into a mystery involving another young woman, Sandy, whose life during the 60's parallels her mother's life. 

Thomasin McKenzie having a REALLY bad night in Soho!

I wasn't sure where this movie was going, but I loved the beginning, as Ellie finds herself to be the ultimate fish out of water in contemporary London. And as one who was a teenager in the 60's, I loved her fixation with the music from that era. The unfolding of the mystery concerning Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy), is well-constructed and involving. But eventually, blood begins to spurt out from all sides of the screen, and away we go. By the time we reach the harrowing climax, we find ourselves viewing a completely different movie, which could be retitled: THE SOHO ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. (Spoiler alert.) The director, Edgar Wright, found it necessary to bombard our senses with his special effects tricks in order to show us as much ugliness and physical cruelty as his budget would allow. Sorry for the cynical reaction. I don't handle violence well, especially when it isn't necessary for the telling of a story. What could have been a fascinating psychological mystery played out with brilliant imagery and characterizations degenerated into just another slasher flick. I'm not familiar with any of this director's other work, so I don't know if gushing geysers of blood are normal features of his style. Whatever the case, this is not a film I would enjoy seeing again, in spite of its many positive attributes.

All of the actors give good performances. Miss Taylor-Joy, so good in THE WITCH (2015), is quite effective here as well. Matt Smith is appropriately hateful as the villain. And Michael Ajao is gentle and moving as Ellie's best friend. One of the most interesting things about the film is the appearance of three iconic faces from the British cinema of the 1960's: Rita Tushingham, Terence Stamp, and Diana Rigg. Tushingham's role is rather small, but Stamp and Rigg are very important to the story. Edgar Wright has directed several other popular films, including SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004), ANT MAN (2015), and BABY DRIVER (2017).


  1. I had the same reaction to this as you did, Mike. Edgar Wright is a director who likes to mash different genres together, apparently. The great cast, both young and old, do pull it through the unnecessary gore. Thomasin McKenzie is superb and I am looking forward to seeing her in Eileen soon, from a book I read a few years ago and really liked. Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham and Diana Rigg! I just finished watching all the Diana Rigg episodes of The Avengers currently available on Prime. She was so cool as Mrs.Peel. And where was Mr. Peel? Edgar Wright has a great appreciation of film history and is actively supportive in restoring older and neglected films and I am always grateful to those with influence contributing to the cause. I have only seen Hot Fuzz from him previously but I might check some of his other films. He certainly has talent.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Roger. I didn't know anything about Edgar Wright and his support for film preservation, or his interest in film history. Maybe I need to cut him some slack where this film is concerned. I found it fascinating until it went off the rails with useless violence. I've heard good things about Baby Driver, so maybe I'll try to check it out. Would you believe I've never seen a single episode of The Avengers. The only time I remember seeing Diana Rigg is in a marvelous TV film called In This House of Breed where she played a nun.