A young, blonde, White woman, and light-skinned Black man stand looking through a window, with intrigued facial expressions as the girl clutches a pair of binoculars.
Credit: The Guardian

Review: The Voyeurs

By Lola Bhlaire

With overdone symbolism and overdone sex, Lola reports The Voyeurs a boring, try-hard romp.

Sitting through The Voyeurs felt like watching a secondary school production of Hitchcock’s Rear Window except unnecessarily sexual, and set in Canada for some reason. The Voyeurs tells the story of Pippa and Thomas, a young couple who, upon moving into their new apartment, realise they can see perfectly across the way neighbours place, and eventually the pair, Pippa especially, become obsessed with couple Sebastian and Julia, and their calculated melodrama.

This film starts off as you would expect from any mediocre thriller, wooden acting, eye-squinting dialogue (Babe! We’re being creepy weirdos!), and some sinister string music for good measure. In an absurd and plot-hole-ridden twist the story goes to absurd lengths that rely on oddly specific devices in an attempt to shock the audience and force them to rethink their perception of other people’s lives. Director Michael Mohan described the concept of looking into a neighbours window with binoculars as an allegory for social media without having to ever show a shot of a smartphone. Yet, the message of the film feels mixed. Can our toxic and complicated relationships with social media really be represented by spying on people who intentionally allow you to see everything that goes on in their lives, via a literal gigantic public facing window? Perhaps this message would be more prescient were more time given to the exposition of the characters rather than lengthy uninteresting montage that furthers the plot.

The Voyeurs in many ways epitomises a lot of discourse around social media, the message is clear, but the people themselves are an afterthought, treated with little importance and understanding. Ironically for a tale about the dangers of social media, the characters are rather shallow. The director stated that he wrote the ending of the film first and worked backwards so that the conclusion would make sense, which is definitely clear in the film’s weaker moments. The main two antagonists suffer from the age-old flaw of any movie villain: they have no convincing motive. That is, that their reason for committing such heinous and self-serving acts is that they… felt like it? Are they just really evil? Was it for a good “Gotcha!” moment? It is unclear. This perverse social experiment goes largely unexplained. That is not to say that the film’s decision to tackle social media and its ever-differing impacts on our lives is not an interesting topic. The film’s boldness is admirable, especially around something as prevalent as internet culture. Yet it seems that there are few films being made around this subject that treat it with any subtlety, perhaps because the matter reminds us of some kind of school e-safety video, and often films that try to freak us out of our own algorithms, smack us over the head with their “phone? bad!” message.

Despite its best efforts to provoke and intrigue its audience, The Voyeurs is an awkwardly acted and poorly written thriller. In short, it is a film that does not leave the audience compelled to do any introspection or impress on them tech anxiety, but rather inspire befuddlement and disbelieving laughter. 


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