Credit to writer-director Michael Mohan’s “The Voyeurs” for swinging for the fences in an erotic thriller with clear echoes of films such as “Rear Window” and “Body Double” and “9 ½ Weeks” and “Eyes Wide Shut” and let’s throw in TV series such as “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery” and “Black Mirror” as well.
Alas, you’d be better off watching any of those films or just about any single episode of those anthology series than this salacious and wildly implausible story that holds our interest for a while before flying off the cliff and into an abyss of creepy, ludicrous and ultimately ridiculous twists and turns.
Sydney Sweeney is a rising star who has done fine work on series such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Sharp Objects,” “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus,” and she’s the best thing in “The Voyeurs” as Pippa, who works at an eye clinic (ooh, the first of many VOYEUR metaphors!) and has just moved into a spacious loft apartment with her boyfriend Thomas (Justice Smith), and they’re just the most adorable couple as they giggle and cuddle and coo about making such a grown-up decision. They’re young and in love, and their whole lives are ahead of them, and they’ll drink to that — and whoa wait a minute, they can see directly into the apartment across the square, and wow that couple is hot and holy wow are they going at it.
As we eventually learn, the neighbors are Seb (Ben Hardy), a photographer who works out of a home studio and specializes in taking nude photos of his models and then seducing his subjects; and Julia (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), a former model who may or may not know about her husband’s myriad of extracurricular activities. At first, it’s Thomas who’s really into the spying game, as he whips out the binoculars and does play-by-play, but then Pippa becomes obsessed with them. Thomas and Pippa even figure out a way to plant a device in their neighbors’ apartment that will allow them to not only see them but hear their conversations, and things get even more twisted and bizarre after Julia just happens to walk into the clinic where Pippa works, and the two women become friends. (Not that Julia has any idea Pippa spends nearly every waking moment at home spying on her and/or her husband).
“The Voyeurs” doesn’t shy away from graphic nudity and explicit sex sequences, but all that exposed flesh and all that overwrought writhing is mere window dressing (so to speak) as Pippa goes so deep down the rabbit hole that Thomas doesn’t even know who she is anymore. Pippa’s actions have dire consequences. Sweeney does her best to sell this sordid story material, but Justice Smith and Ben Hardy are unfortunately bland as the two men in Pippa’s life, and Natasha Liu Bordizzo is saddled with such a dumb role that perhaps no actor on the planet could make it work. By the time we reach the insanely dubious final twist of “The Voyeurs,” we’d rather just look the other way.