Everyone is guilty of people watching and making up a pretend life for the unknowing passerby. What happens, though, when one takes this concept dangerously too far? Prime Video’s The Voyeurs attempts to answer that question with an interesting narrative bolstered by a strong cast that gives their best, albeit with some strange decisions made throughout that try far too hard to make this film edgier than need be.
The Voyeurs follows couple Pippa (Sydney Sweeney) and Thomas (Justice Smith) as they move into a new apartment. When they notice their lively neighbors across the street, they make a game out of watching them. But as they continue, Pippa becomes obsessed with these strangers, pushing away Thomas as she goes from harmlessly gazing to full-on spying. She quickly finds herself wrapped up in their privacy, stumbling upon a much darker truth than anything she could have ever imagined.
The film’s premise is certainly an interesting one, and the story, once fleshed out, proves to be one that’s enjoyable to watch. Michael Mohan’s direction is well-done, giving the film a distinctly artistic feel that helps it stand out from other mystery thrillers. Noteworthy lighting, cinematography, and an all-around professional aura will at least keep the viewer visually sustained. However, underneath the visual flair is a plot bogged down by messy decision making. The film’s ending brings far too many twists and turns that are genuinely insane and incredibly unbelievable. What is meant to be a focused erotic thriller gets completely lost, leaving much feeling unearned by the time the credits roll.
The biggest mishandling is that of lead character Pippa. She repeatedly makes terrible decisions at every turn, hurting so many people, and yet, in the end, the audience is meant to root for her like she’s some hero. Without getting into the exact details regarding the film’s biggest reveal, Pippa is justified in many of her actions within the third act, though it still doesn’t erase the terrible things she was guilty of prior. She is not some great character that needs to be worshiped; she’s an incredibly flawed human being. The people around her may be terrible people as well, but this doesn’t just make her better by comparison. Likewise, the antagonists of the film are, unfortunately, almost laughably evil, turning into complete jokes by the finale, as the viewer half expects them to start twirling their mustaches while stroking white cats.
The cast is not to blame here. As the leads, Sydney Sweeney and Justice Smith continue to demonstrate themselves as incredibly talented and capable actors, being the highlights of The Voyeurs in every aspect. The duo’s chemistry is off the charts, feeling like a very tangible relationship that allows those watching to connect with them in a way they may not have been able to originally. Although Pippa’s arc is very questionable, Sweeney’s casting is certainly not, as her performance is the only thing saving the role and, ultimately, the film. She brings a heartbreaking, tragic complexity to the character that creates a real sense of sympathy. Even if he doesn’t have much to do, Smith is great as well, bringing a charismatic joy to this awkward, normal guy that no other actor could have.
The Voyeurs, though far from terrible, suffers from one poor decision after the other in the build-up to the pivotal finale, putting a damper on the entire film as a whole. The strong cast tries their best to bring these characters to life, yet they can only do so much when their roles are lacking on paper. Still, The Voyeurs does succeed in doing what it first set out to do, and that is delivering a sufficient enough mystery to hook one in. For that, many will be able to respect and enjoy it at the bare minimum.