With most thrillers, filmmakers manage to manipulate audiences and misdirect their attention to allow for a finale that comes as a major shock to the viewer, but with writer/director Michael Mohan’s The Voyeurs, audiences are treated to a number of unexpected surprises that only build off of one another, culminating in a truly startling conclusion. Understandably, taking such big risks might have come with trepidation from Mohan, knowing that such big swings might make for more challenges for the production, while star Sydney Sweeney knew before she had even finished the script that she had to be involved in the endeavor. The Voyeurs starts streaming on Amazon Prime Video starting September 10th.
“There was a point in the script, and I don’t want to give away what point, that I thought was the ending, and then all of a sudden I look and there’s like 20 pages more. I go, ‘Wait, what could happen next?'” Sweeney recalled to ComicBook.com. “After that, I called Mike right away and I begged, I was like, ‘Please let me be Pippa. This is amazing.’ I was completely blown away by every choice that was made.”
In the new film, “After moving into a beautiful loft apartment in Downtown Montreal, a young couple (Sydney Sweeney and Justice Smith), find themselves becoming increasingly interested in the sex life of their eccentric neighbors across the street (Ben Hardy and Natasha Liu Bordizzo). What starts out as an innocent curiosity slowly turns into an unhealthy obsession, after they discover that one of these neighbors is cheating on the other. Temptation and desire cause their lives to become tangled together in unexpected ways, leading to deadly consequences. Breathing new life into the forgotten genre of erotic thriller, The Voyeurs asks the question, ‘Is it okay to watch?'”
Even knowing how risky his ambitions were, he never let anticipated opposition hold him back from his vision.
“I did commit. I did, because I think that there’s this last genre of erotic thrillers that has somehow mysteriously disappeared since 2006,” Mohan detailed of developing the shocking storyline. “I think the last proper one was maybe Unfaithful, which was just as visceral as ours, and nominated for Oscars, and made a ton of money. It was a total mystery to me why they ceased to exist. No good art comes from a place of fear, and I think me and Sydney and the whole cast were fearless.”
As far as why this genre of erotic thrillers have dwindled, Mohan theorized, “I think some of these movies haven’t stood the test time. I think, in 2021, if an audience is going to see a scene of intimacy, the way that you can enjoy it is with the knowledge that the performers involved had agency and bullet-proof consent. I think that, in the past 10 years, I think we’ve now been able to solve that with the advent of intimacy coordinators. I think, on this film, what we wanted to do is we didn’t want to just adhere to intimacy standards, we wanted to set a new bar. I don’t know if that explains why [erotic thrillers] don’t exist anymore. I don’t actually know the answer to that question, but I do know that we are actively trying to bring it back for a modern audience.”
Part of The Voyeurs‘ ambition comes from delivering characters with controversial objectives, which ultimately results in viewers having to empathize with potentially unlikable figures. Given that Sweeney recently starred in HBO’s The White Lotus as a character that audiences held animosity for, she sees those reactions as proof of her performance.
“I think that if people, hence for Olivia with White Lotus, when they were saying, ‘She’s the meanest character on TV,’ I feel proud that I was able to create something like that,” the actor admitted. “But I think that there’s also a truth behind Olivia, and the same with Pippa, that they all make their own choices and decisions from the past that they’ve had. I think everyone needs to have an open mind about how other people think differently than themselves.”
The Voyeurs debuts on Amazon Prime Video on September 10th.
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