Our current entertainment climate has an undeniable obsession with nostalgia that has taken over our collective consciousness over the past couple of years. Be it modern reboots of beloved classics or the trending aesthetics of vintage nostalgia that paints instagram’s explore page. Nostalgia and our fascination with the past is an undeniable part of how we live our lives today and it is that very fascination that Edgar Wright aims to weaponize against us in a horror film context to various levels of success.
The film kicks off to a mixed start. The dialogue is clunky at points, the way Wright takes the main character from her quaint country home in Cornwall to the bustling streets of London feels rigid and played out; however his tight and captivating editing style more than makes up for the conventionalities. Moving through the 1st act we get our initial dive into the past. The main character Eloise throws the covers over herself to go to sleep while the record player gently cradles us away from her with Cilla Blacks “Your my world” and the bed drifts further and further away from us until it’s eventually framed in a surreal vast emptiness. She steps out of a dark alley she now finds herself in, the music swells to a perfect apex luring us closer into the bygone era’s culture as she steps out into the intoxicating light drenched streets of 1960’s London. The scope of the city has never seemed so imposing as though the plaza itself was a stager that the whole world was watching, the dizzying lights blind us and energy of the era we have always heard so much about hits us like a truck reeling back the camera and letting us bask in it all. “ L007k out! Here comes the biggest Bond of all! Sean Connery as Ian Fleming’s “Thunderball” is plastered on the now dazzling vintage theatre, the statue in the centre of the crowded junction looks brand new, the effects of time now stripped from it. The world feels brand new and exciting again, it’s everything you remember it being or reading about and more. Easily the film’s crowning moment and quite possibly Edgar Wright’s finest moment. Pure cinema. Unfortunately however, this peak comes in barely over the 25 minute mark and although the film continues its fascinating exploration of the toxic nature of living a past that isn’t yours with it’s unnerving and mysterious screenplay well through it’s 2nd act. Giving you just enough to keep you going, wanting to find out more and completely engrossed by Elouises descent into paranoia and madness. It hits an unfortunate snag it’s 3rd act.
As the film slows down and the pieces fall into place allowing us to understand what really happened 60 years ago the film starts to lose me. Not to say the climax is devoid of enjoyment. The film maintains its strong visual direction and sharp editing. However with the intrigue gone I don’t think the slasher horror offerings were able to hold its own for the remaining runtime. There are some promising ideas and some admittedly unnerving imagery but the best aspect about this film’s horror was definitely the psychological side. The glamorous, bright eyed indulgence of Elouises fantasies that quickly unravels and reveals how messy and imperfect the past actually was, contrary to the idealistic way we tend to view it through scratched up vinyls and classic memorabilia.