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‘The Voyeurs’ review: Steamy thriller starts strong but can’t finish

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The Voyeurs is proof of how difficult it can be to make an erotic thriller. Other genres have more leeway. Romantic comedies do not have to be especially romantic or comedic as long as they get the point across. The same can be said for horror and mysteries. As long as they get the point across, they can be very enjoyable. The same cannot be said for erotic movies, however.

Any movie that calls itself erotic has to nail it. It can be funny, scary, thrilling or whatever, but it absolutely has to make hearts race and palms sweat. It has to titillate and excite and make people blush. And movies like Jade and Sliver have proven that it takes more than copious nudity and sex to make these types of movie work. Too much stimulation tends to be less sexy and erotic.

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Pippa (Sydney Sweeney) and her boyfriend Thomas (Justice Smith) have moved into a new loft. When they discover they can watch in on the sex lives of their neighbors, they are initially intrigued. This is partially due to issues in their own relationship, but much of it is due to a randy curiosity. Before long, it becomes an obsession. This soon leads to a discovery that puts the two in over their heads. 

There is not much subtlety to The Voyeurs. From its Rear Window-esque plot to the amount of nudity, the film never holds back. This is a risky path for any type of erotic film or thriller. It is the tempting that makes eroticism work and the secretive glances that keep thrillers suspenseful. Putting everything out there for the audience takes away from much of the fun.

In this case, it manages to work for a while. The film asks questions about mental health and consent. There is also the question of whether Pippa and Thomas are intentionally being allowed to see everything. The Voyeurs is willing to bare it all, but the uncertainty and doubt create an atmosphere audiences will not want to turn away from. (It cannot be ignored that these types of movies just are not made any more. That in itself helps it stand out.)

Once The Voyeurs takes a step back from its more erotic themes an morphs into a thriller, it loses a lot of steam. The last thirty minutes become a dependent on a series of twists that are increasingly fun, but are hard to take seriously. It never stops being fun to watch, but it is clear the film has shot its load. 

The Voyeurs comes to Amazon Prime September 10

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