THE VOYEURS (2021), a new thriller by writer/director Michael Mohan, now available on Prime Video, asks the question, if you can see your neighbors through their open window, does that mean you have an open invitation to watch them?
The answer seems fairly obvious… no…. but several characters in this movie feel otherwise.
The first half of THE VOYEURS does a good job examining the moral implications of spying on one’s neighbors, while the second half deteriorates into a far less believable tale, jettisoning its thought-provoking inquiries and entering the world of plot twists and crime plots, the result being a mixed bag of a film that misses its mark by plenty by the time the end credits role.
THE VOYEURS opens with super cute couple Pippa (Sydney Sweeney) and Thomas (Justice Smith) moving into their first apartment together and starting an exciting new life with each other. They soon discover that their good looking neighbors like to have sex with their shades open in full view of anyone who wants to watch, and Pippa and Thomas in spite of discussing “should they or shouldn’t they” find themselves watching regularly and becoming sexually aroused while doing so. It’s all harmless, until they spy the husband, a professional photographer, having sex with other women during the day while his wife is away. He’s also physically abusive to her when she accuses him of cheating on her.
When she walks into the eye doctor office in which Pippa works, and Pippa finds herself giving her an eye exam, they make small talk and hit it off as friends, and they agree to see each other socially. Pippa tells Thomas she feels an obligation to tell the woman that her husband is cheating on her, but Thomas tells her absolutely not, as they are not even supposed to know that information, since the only reason they do know is because they’ve been watching through the window.
But Pippa can’t resist, and as she goes ahead with her plan to alert her new friend that her husband isn’t being faithful to her, unexpected tragic results occur instead, and that’s only the beginning. It gets much, much worse.
This actually sounds better than it is. I really enjoyed the first half of THE VOYEURS, mostly because it presented an intriguing story and more importantly it was believable. But the second half, which exposes a devious plot, is far less convincing and as a result far less enjoyable.
The plot and theme definitely calls to mind Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW (1954), but also Brian De Palma’s BODY DOUBLE (1984). I thought a lot about De Palma while watching THE VOYEURS. Had this been a De Palma film, it would have been an much more violent and bloody movie, but the thing is, the way the second half of this movie plays out, had it become over-the-top violent a la De Palma, it would have been a much more entertaining vehicle. The second half falls flat mostly because it’s not convincing, but also because the thriller aspects just aren’t very thrilling.
The first half of the movie is much smarter and as such works better.
The cast is very good. Sydney Sweeney is adorable as the spunky Pippa, and she definitely draws the audience in with her as she steps up her game to become involved in the lives of her neighbors. Justice Smith is likable as Pippa’s boyfriend Thomas, but his reactions in the second half of the film are a major part of the lack of believability factor. His character reacts in some bizarre and unbelievable ways.
I really liked Ben Hardy as Seb, the professional photographer who cheats on his wife, although he doesn’t see it as cheating. He thinks it shouldn’t matter since it doesn’t matter to him, and it doesn’t change the fact that he loves his wife. Hardy makes Seb the perfect alpha self-centered and self-confident male. His performance doesn’t miss a beat.
And Natasha Liu Bordizzo is pretty darn good herself as Seb’s wife Julia, a sympathetic character until late in the game when things change
THE VOYEURS contains lots of nudity and sex scenes, which makes this one a rather erotic thriller, and the scenes are all well done, much better than the thriller scenes later in the film.
The best thing that writer/director Michael Mohan does with this one is he definitely flips it so in the film’s final reel, when Pippa goes to Seb and poses for him in his apartment, we the audience become the voyeurs, watching something we probably shouldn’t want to watch, yet we are fascinated to see what will happen between Pippa and Seb.
Unfortunately, all that comes after this scene is forced, contrived, and simply not as good as what had come before it.
THE VOYEURS is a mild thriller, and works better as an erotic drama. It’s also a showcase for Sydney Sweeney, who’s the best part of this one. She’s good throughout.
While there’s a lot to look at in THE VOYEURS, not all of it makes sense, and it fails to generate the required suspense needed for this type of thriller to be successful. As a result, this one is strictly eye candy