If you, like Katie Parker, spend much of your time bemoaning the demise of the ’90s erotic thriller, then The Voyeurs is not just up your alley—it’s literally made for you.
In 2021, it seems safe to say that pretty much everyone is a bit of a voyeur. After all, what do we do all day but watch one another? From my screen time stats alone I can tell you that feasting our hungry little eyes on the banal comings and goings of friends, peers, and perfect strangers is something we spend an insane amount of time doing—which, in the age of social media, is of course, entirely standard.
Now, in the new Prime Video movie The Voyeurs, the perks of being a pervy weirdo are put to the test—you may never secretly watch your sexy neighbours the same way again.
The Voyeurs in question here are fledgling optometrist Pippa (Sydney Sweeney – Euphoria, The White Lotus), and freelance sound engineer Thomas (Justice Smith – Pokémon Detective Pikachu), a sweet young couple moving into their first apartment together in inner city Montreal. Spacious, modern and with the kind of square footage to make any renter weep, their new set up is incredibly sweet and, best of all, has massive floor to ceiling windows overlooking the street outside. You know, the kind only a fool would cover with something so pedestrian as curtains.
The couple have not even been there a full night, however, before they realise their big new windows have other advantages—namely their newfound ability to watch the incredibly hot couple across the road (Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Ben Hardy) making sweet, sweet porny love all over the bloody place (happily, these guys don’t believe in blinds or drapery either).
While initially Pippa and Thomas are surprised and aroused by their uninhibited new neighbours’ boundless love, they are soon horrified (but still kind of aroused) to find that their relationship is far from perfect. Before long they have both eyes and ears on the other apartment and curiosity escalates into obsession… with devastating consequences!
If you, like me, spend much of your precious time on this earth bemoaning the demise of the ’90s erotic thriller, then The Voyeurs is not just up your alley—it’s literally made for you. Tapping into a cinematic tradition in which sexy games and covert surveillance of your hot neighbours are par for the course, director Michael Mohan leans gamely into the silliness of the set up, pulling out every trick in the erotic thriller book to create the kind of tawdry, twisty tale that audiences have been starved of for so long.
Having said that… true Hitchcockian erotic thriller purists may have to lower their expectations a little bit here. For one thing, the chemistry between Pippa and Thomas is nonexistent. And, whether their naughty nighttime viewing is making them randy or causing a rift, the entire central conflict that is created between them (ie. is it ok to go full The Lives of Others on your neighbours) feels inconsequential and far from the moral predicament Mohan probably imagined.
For another, the plot contrivances get a little loose and fancy free. Would you, for instance, agree to spend a full (naked) spa day with the woman whose sex life you have been fapping to, after coincidentally meeting her for the first time to give her a routine eye exam? Pippa does—but when I tried this at OPSM they acted really weird about it!
But while The Voyeurs is destined to be lambasted by some critics for its flagrant absurdity, it seems fairly safe to assume that this is, as they say, a feature not a bug. Deliberately melodramatic, gleefully silly, and fabulously schlocky, The Voyeurs has no interest in being high art, or even really making that much logical sense. The technology they use to tune into the audio in the opposing apartment, involving a carefully placed mirror, a laser and “window vibrations”, should be enough to convince you of that.
Gradually building up to a truly bonkers final act and a hilarious, darkly poetic morality lesson, The Voyeurs may be a little bit slow and clunky getting there, but in its ultimate twist all is redeemed. Its biggest crime, as my editor astutely pointed out, may be that it is not on Netflix, where it would surely become a word-of-mouth guilty pleasure sensation. My advice? Stay away from the spoilers and go into The Voyeurs blind—this is something that needs to be seen to be believed.