A big city succumbs to its own grandeur. The flashing lights, almost blinding, hide the horrors of affluent men and women alike. A dead soul haunts every room and every building in the big city. Some are dead by choice, some are dead without it. Edgar Wright weaves a tale around these wordless wandering souls who were mercilessly killed because they deserved it. But even the sinful deserve closure, and that’s what Last Night in Soho is about: giving an end to what has already ended.
Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho depicts a young fashion student who arrives in the city to pursue her artistic dream. But instead of conscious dreams, the girl start hallucinating the horrors committed in the city years before, in the 1960s. Through his cinematic lens, cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung captures two parallel Londons, one modern and one retro. These two characters of the city try to blend in on the same screen when, ultimately, the past becomes present, and realism loses its ground.
In films where a city has its own character, it’s crucial to portray the nuances that set it apart. The skyscrapers, the big movie posters, and the fast cars are trivial things, pretty standard in every big city. Well, it’s true that in modern times, every city has lost its character, but then there is a director like Scorsese who can take you on a ride to New York City through his “Taxi Driver.” Due to the absence of a prominent character in the landscape, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho becomes another lost horror thriller set in London. Maybe the vision of Nicolas Winding Refn could have done more justice to it.
Without further ado, let’s try to decipher and explain the ending of Last Night in Soho.
‘Last Night in Soho’ Plot Summary
Eloise “Ellie” Turner, a fan of retro vinyl music discs, aspires to be a fashion designer, like her late mother. In this big, lonely world, Ellie has no parents of her own. She lives under the care of her grandmother in a small hogget cottage in the countryside of Cornwall. In her loneliness, Ellie envisions her mother in the mirror. It’s a gift she has. Ellie can see things and feel things that existed years ago.
The inciting incident strikes the screen when Ellie gets accepted into the London College of Fashion. She packs her bags to pursue her dream in the big city. However, before leaving, her grandmother mentions that “London can be a lot” and that it can mess with her gift (mental condition). The warning is a hint of the impending danger that is going to mould the story further.
A cautious Ellie arrives in modern-day London and visits the student housing centre on Charlotte Street. But after spending a night with her bragging roommate, Jocasta Thomson, Ellie decides to find another abode to get some peaceful nights. She comes across an advert for a room to rent on Goodge Street, near Soho.
An old lady, Ms Collins, shows her a dull room glittered with a neon board of a nearby bistro. Collins tells Ellie that she bought the old-fashioned building from the previous owners, for whom she worked. Ellie finds the room warm and sees a glimpse of her Gran in Collins, and thus decides to rent the room. However, as she spends her first night in a new home, she begins to dream/hallucinate about a girl named Alexandra “Sandie” who came to London in the 1960s to become a singer.
What Happened to Alexandra Sandie?
Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) came to London in the 1960s to become a singer and a dancer. Coincidentally, she lived in the same room at 8 Goodge Place as Ellie rented.
As Ellie’s dream began, she visualized Sandie’s first visit to the Cafe de Paris. Sandie witnessed the glamorous aura of singer Miss Cilla Black and aspired to become like her someday. In the absence of the owner, Sandie met a young, charming man, Jack. The waiter told Sandie that he managed a lot of girls, but little did she know that he was a crooked pimp.
Jack lured Sandie with his charms and wits and promised to jack up her singing career. However, he soon showed his true colors. After Jack became Sandie’s manager, he told her to sleep with affluent men. “These are the men you need to please if you want to move up the ladder,” Jack explained. It’s a pretty dark yet ignored secret of the glamour industry where one is always pleasing the undeserving only because their pockets are filled with green.
At first, Sandie resisted, but Jack knew where she lived. He threatened her physically, and soon Sandie found herself imprisoned in the Red Light Web. The sequences of horror continued as Jack started sending rich men to Sandie’s room. In one of her visions, Ellie saw that Jack caught her and slit her throat when Sandie tried to run away, thereby killing her in the room Ellie was living in.
These hounds in the bodies of men are the core of Last Night in Soho. It depicts how powerful men exploit women or men who arrive in the city with glittering dreams in their eyes. These ravenous sinners don’t understand the concept of sending the ladder down, and they hold onto their affluent position like arrogant tyrants.
Why did Ellie have the visions?
Many people in the film had many theories about Ellie’s hallucination. A cooper said she might be schizophrenic, or it could be an effect of a psychedelic drug. The reason, however, was mentioned at the beginning of the film.
Ellie’s grandmother said that Ellie had a gift. After her mother’s death, a tormented Ellie starts having visions of her late mother. She was probably treated for her mental condition, but she was never cured of it. Before leaving Cornwall, Ellie lied to her grandmother that she hadn’t seen her mum in ages.
But it wasn’t just Ellie who had visions of Sandie or the ghosts of the men who exploited her. Ms. Collins told Ellie that many girls ran off from the building in the middle of the night. At the end of the film, even Ms. Collins saw those ghosts. Though the room was haunted, it took a toll on Ellie’s already traumatized sanity. Due to it, Ellie’s mental condition deteriorated, and she saw those ghosts on the streets, in college, and in other places.
Ellie’s obsession with Sandie could also be one of the reasons for the visions outside the room. She resonated with Sandie because she came to the big city with dreams in her eyes like her. Ellie loved Sandie’s dressing style, her bewitching attitude, and the aura she carried. Because of Sandie, Ellie became infatuated with the retro 60s culture and brought inspiration to her canvas. Ellie sketched a fabric design inspired by Sandie’s dress and even gave her hair a blond color to look like her. In short, she slipped into Sandie’s shoes and started living her life. But every good brings evil with it, and these visions were a part of the horrors.
Who was Silver Haired Gentleman, aka Lindsey?
Ellie believed that the Silver-Haired Gentleman (Terence Stamp) whom she often saw around Soho was Sandie’s pimp and her killer, Jack. When Ellie changed her hair color, the gentleman started following Ellie. She accused him of killing Sandie and tried to record a confession at the Toucan bar where Ellie worked.
While Ellie and the gentleman were having an argument on the street, a taxi hit him. At this point, the owner of the bar told Ellie that this gentleman was named Lindsey. He was an ex-vice cooper who worked in the Red Lights area around Soho for years.
Ellie remembered him from a vision she had in which a cooper tried to save Sandie from prostitution, but Sandie, in denial, refused his help. In the present time, Lindsey told Ellie that he wanted to help Sandie, but it seemed to him that she didn’t want to be found. Before the accident, Lindsey asked Ellie to say hello to Alex (Alexandra Sandie) if she ever met her. It meant that Sandie didn’t die, or maybe her body wasn’t recovered.
Nevertheless, Ellie couldn’t believe that she had accused an innocent man, and he would probably die because of her. A traumatized Ellie decided to leave London for some time.
Was Sandie Alive?
Ellie decided to leave the room at 8 Goodge Place. She asked her new friend John to wait outside the building while she knocked on Ms. Collins’ room to request her return her 2-month advance deposit. Ms. Collins asked her to sit down and revealed that a cooper had come looking for her. The old woman got suspicious of Ellie and thus drugged her tea while she unraveled her mysterious identity.
Ms. Collins told Ellie that a young girl had died in Ellie’s room, but ironically, it was young Collins herself. Ellie checked the old woman’s name on the letters and discovered that she was “Alexandra Sandie.”
Old Sandie shared that she wanted to sing and perform, but those cruel men exploited her to feed their hunger. And then one day, when she had enough, she stabbed the man who put her in that cage. She killed Jack and several others who crept into her room. She hid their bodies inside the wooden flooring, which was why she bought the house from the previous owners. In the beginning, Collins told Ellie that she could never sell the house because she had too many memories attached to it. She would probably have been caught if the new owners had decided to renovate the house.
The souls of these men and Jack haunted the room. They came into Ellie’s dreams to compel her to take revenge on Sandie. Throughout the film, Ellie convinced herself that Jack killed Sandie. But the end revealed that it was the other way around.
‘Last Night in Soho’ Ending, Explained
Old Sandie stabbed, drugged Ellie, and tried to push her down the stairs. Ellie struggled, and in a rush, a cigarette bud accidentally fell into the carton of old vinyl discs. John tried to save Ellie, but Sandie stabbed him and then ran after Ellie. Ellie escaped to the haunted room where the ghosts of treacherous men begged Ellie to liberate their souls by killing Sandie. As soon as Sandie entered the room, she had visions of these dead souls, but they didn’t haunt her. They were afraid of Sandie.
After a series of flashbacks of her brutal acts, Sandie felt remorseful. In her last moments, Sandie explained to Ellie that she didn’t want to turn into a beast, but these men pushed her into a cage. They deserved what was coming to them.
Ellie tried to convince Sandie that she could help her, but Sandie wanted to end the misery that the big city had brought upon her. Sandie compelled Ellie to leave the burning house and save John while he had time. Ellie left the house with John, while Sandie sat inside the room that became her hell. She burned herself in the room so that no one would ever know the secret she buried.
Did Ellie realize her dream?
A fire brigade rescued Ellie and John, and, fortunately, the two survived the burning house. After her first year, Ellie presented her first project on stage. She demonstrated three retro dresses inspired by Sandie’s iconic dressing style from the 1960s. The audience adored the young fashion designer’s vision, and later, Ellie’s grandmother and John came backstage to congratulate Ellie on a successful show.
Ellie saw her mother in the mirror, but quickly the vision changed into Sandie’s young figure. Her obsession with Sandie didn’t come to an end, and it was going to influence her work or emotional sanity in the years to come. As noted earlier, Ellie struggled with a mental condition, and she was pretty skillful in hiding it. While the vision of Sandie surprised her for a bit, she quickly embraced it with open hands as she credited her success to Sandie. The end was the beginning of a new friendship that would probably stay in Ellie’s head forever.
Last Night in Soho is a 2021 Psychological Thriller film directed by Edgar Wright.