The Voyeurs isn’t aiming to be anything worthy...
THE VOYEURS (2021)
I’m sure on paper that Michael Mohan’s The Voyeurs seemed like it had all the makings of a winner. It embraced an eroticism that so few mainstream studio releases dare to entertain, and packed twist upon twist (upon twist) that presumably read stronger on the page than how it was ultimately presented. It’s an extravagant, horny film built from the simplest of premises, and though there’s nothing wrong with the lustful cheese that Mohan’s script indulges in, some fine tuning and a little less let’s-bash-our-audiences-over-the-head-with-a-cautionary-tale-mentality could’ve truly helped these voyeurs see the light.
If you took Rear Window and drenched it in a modernised serving of unashamed sex, you’d get this film. Mohan has big, bold ideas and directs his cast in a way that makes them at once incredibly organic and remarkable caricatures. Thrillers are more than just the twists that so often accompany the genre, and though, on occasion, there’s some genuine unrest evoked, Mohan banks too much on his third act mindf**k that everything else prior feels rather pedestrian.
Though I’ve alluded to the fact that The Voyeurs is pretty much only going to get any type of notice due to its third act reveals – and perhaps the copious amounts of nudity throughout (and that includes the most miniscule of male full frontal, which is anything but miniscule, mind you) – its descension into lunacy is what keeps it moving forward. The plot, for the most part, feels rather stock standard, with the preppy young couple (Sydney Sweeney and Justice Smith), who somehow can afford an impossible spacious loft at their young age, becoming enamoured with the wild lifestyle of their across-the-way neighbours (Ben Hardy and Natasha Liu Bordizzo) not exactly breaking the mould. The unhealthy obsession that comes with spying on said neighbours though, and the wild, orchestrated game of “don’t believe everything you see” that follows is admittedly an awful lot of fun, even if it takes a few too many steps too far.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Though she’s contending with questionable dialogue and morals, Sydney Sweeney’s curious-turned-obsessed Pippa is one of the main reasons The Voyeurs works. She’s doing all the things we’d probably do in her situation pertaining to spying on her horny neighbours, but when her genuine inquisitiveness twists into something healthy, we just want to scold her and tell her to leave it all the hell alone. She’s as much a victim as she is villain-adjacent, but she feels the best served by Mohan’s script. Justice Smith is surprisingly underutilised, Ben Hardy lets his body do most of the acting – and, therefore, gives a solid performance – and Natasha Liu Bordizzo, similar to Sweeney, takes what could be a frustrating character and skewers her sadness into something that’s surprisingly terrifying.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The film has a sleek look to it overall, with the apartment settings both impossibly lavish and improbable. Hell, even their work spaces are crisp and streamlined! It looks the way you expect the entitled one percenters to live.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Sexy pop and an ominous score blend throughout to remind us of how tense and titillating everything taking place truly is.
The Voyeurs isn’t aiming to be anything worthy, but at least it handles its thrills and sexual material in a better manner than the majority of trashy Netflix properties. It isn’t subtle, and I can’t stress how wild the film’s ending truly is, but with a glass of wine and some company – preferably someone you hope to bed – this could pass the time with relative ease.