Amazon Prime Video’s movie The Voyeurs is the latest in a string of steamy domestic thrillers that have gone viral, but what happens in the wild twist ending? Featuring rising star Sydney Sweeney of Euphoria fame, The Voyeurs is an erotic thriller that adds explicit sex scenes to a setup largely cribbed from Hitchcock’s psychological thriller Rear Window. However, the streaming hit also incorporates elements from some less famous inspirations, as proven by its bizarre twist ending.
Sweeney stars as Pippa, who moves into a beautiful loft apartment with her partner Thomas (Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom’s Justice Smith). Like the heroes of so many thrillers, Pippa and Thomas soon find themselves caught up in a world of intrigue, infidelity, and murder. To explain the twist ending of this thriller, viewers need to know that Pippa and Thomas can see everything that the glamorous couple across the street do via a pair of binoculars. In this Amazon Prime original movie, the couple—Seb (Ben Hardy) and Julia (Natasha Liu Bordizzo)—are, respectively, a photographer and model with what could charitably be called a very tumultuous relationship.
Unbeknownst to Julia, Seb is cheating on her with numerous models who he shoots nude and seduces in their swanky apartment while she is out. Thomas and Pippa discover this and argue over whether or not to inform Julia, with Thomas saying this is none of their business and Pippa insisting they investigate further. This disagreement sets in motion a complex chain of events that eventually leaves Thomas dead, Julia and Seb poisoned and blinded, and Pippa on the run. Needless to say, like the recent Netflix hit Clickbait, explaining the ending of this psychological thriller requires a bit of unpacking thanks to the byzantine, twisty plot.
Julia and Seb killed Thomas, adding poison to a drink before leaving it in Pippa and Thomas’ apartment. Unbeknownst to Pippa and Thomas, Julia and Seb actually own the apartment, and secretly added a line to the couple’s lease stating that they consented to be monitored by a video feed at all times. The entire time that Pippa and Thomas thought they were the titular voyeurs, looking in on the salacious lives of their neighbors, they were in fact being watched all along by the real voyeurs, Julia and Seb. Of course, this doesn’t explain why Julia and Seb killed Thomas, a question that requires a more in-depth explanation of the thriller’s twist ending. Sadly, the twist isn’t executed much better than numerous other streaming thrillers, such as Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes.
Seb and Julia spied on Pippa and Thomas spying on them, collected footage of the couple, compiled it into an ambitious multimedia art project, and then murdered Thomas via poisoning, shortly before unveiling their work to the public. Why the duo needed to kill Thomas is barely explained save for a line about needing an element of “tragedy” to make the project compelling. This conclusion attempts to satirize the art world’s apathy, or point out how callous people can be in the wake of another’s misfortune, but makes the murder seem tacked on. Without killing off Thomas, Julia and Seb would essentially be replicating the plot of 2002’s The Shape of Things, a dark drama that plays out a very similar plot (albeit between two members of one couple rather than two separate couples). Adding in Thomas’ murder makes the antagonists Seb and Julia a little more American Psycho-esque by the ending, but it is still a pretty flat and unconvincing twist that mainly exists to facilitate Pippa’s grisly revenge.
Heartbroken by the loss of Thomas, Pippa does not take the death of her partner lightly. She attends the opening of Julia and Seb’s exhibition (and, interestingly, doesn’t alert anyone present to the death of Thomas), before returning to her apartment and discovering dead birds near her bird feeder. Even though Pippa found Thomas’ body hanging from the rafters in a staged suicide, she nonetheless correctly deduces from the presence of these dead birds that Seb and Julia poisoned the drink, killing Thomas, then staged the suicide to cover their tracks. Like Promising Young Woman’s Cassie, Pippa opts to make vengeance the order of the day, and pulls off an ambitious gambit to get back at the pair.
Despite the duo being responsible for her partner’s murder, Pippa does not actually kill Seb or Julia. Instead, she uses her skills at her day job as an optician to access a laser eye surgery machine, and blind both of them after drugging a congratulatory bottle of wine that she sent the couple. In the closing scenes of The Voyeurs, the couple who spent the whole movie spying on Pippa is unable to spy on anyone, blind in their apartment, and being watched by both a new couple who replaced Pippa and Thomas. They’re also watched by Pippa, who symbolically leaves her binoculars on the rooftop before the credits roll. As a bit of symbolism, it’s heavy-handed, but as an example of in-universe poetic justice, it’s spot-on for the Sydney Sweeney movie.
What happens in The Voyeurs‘ ending can be confusing, to say the least, and trying to do too much affected how audiences and critics received the movie. While the film does create a new twist on a classic thriller trope, a la the Hitchcock movie Rear Window, the Prime film’s twists and turns didn’t get the expected critical praise. In fact, The Voyeurs‘ ending did quite the opposite for many critics. If people found the movie confusing, that’s because it is, and critics (and audiences) sniffed that out immediately. It’s a rare case for a film’s critic score on Rotten Tomatoes to be higher than the audience score, but The Voyeurs managed it. Currently, the movie sits at a rotten 44%, with a 43% audience score. For many, the main criticism of the film concerned its twisting finale.
Many lamented that the movie itself was over-the-top, and the end only solidified that fact. Thomas’ murder is barely explained, and the resulting twists feel like desperate (and unsuccessful) attempts not to plagiarize better movies. Critics also blamed The Voyeurs for being a straight ripoff of Rear Window while adding elements of 90s erotic thrillers. The movie should’ve ended at the big Art Gallery reveal. However, that wasn’t enough for director Michael Mohan – the shark gets jumped a number of times afterward. While Sydney Sweeney does a great job as Pippa, the rest of the cast wasn’t really up to her standard. Coupled with the strange twists and turns, the film fell flat in critics’ eyes.
Explaining the ending of a domestic thriller in the vein of Deadly Illusions or The Voyeurs is one thing, but working out why this streaming hit chose to explore the cultural anxieties that it did can be a bit trickier. Psychological thrillers of the early ‘90s like Sliver also preyed on anxieties about the normalization of surveillance technology. But back then, the fear was very much a one-way street wherein characters were worried about a faceless, unseen enemy watching them. Now, thanks to the preponderance of social media, everyone can keep tabs on everyone else, a development that The Voyeurs effectively mines to both titillate and disturb viewers in equal measure. People around the globe have all been stuck in their houses and apartments for a while, and boredom has made many start paying closer attention to the activities of their neighbors.
Early on, most viewers might side with Pippa when she argues that it is harmless to watch the neighbors get it on and that invading their privacy is no big deal. However, as the movie’s ending explains, this gaze can always be turned on the viewer in a world that echoes Black Mirror, where almost all communication is done electronically, and no contemporary voyeur can be sure they aren’t being watched, as well as doing the watching. The ending of The Voyeurs sees Pippa put down her binoculars in an image that symbolizes the importance of living one’s own life, rather than vicariously viewing the lives of others.
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