After spending the summer stealing scenes as a mean girl in HBO’s The White Lotus, Sydney Sweeney is starring in a throwback erotic thriller.
The Voyeurs, which dropped on September 10 on Amazon Prime Video Canada, casts Sweeney and Justice Smith as a Montreal couple drawn into the affairs—both literal and metaphorical—of their neighbours across the way, photographer Seb (Ben Hardy) and his enigmatic partner Julia (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). And as we’ve seen in everything from Body Heat to Basic Instinct, desire leads almost immediately to disaster.
In the final segment of this week’s NOW What podcast, I talk to Sweeney about how she and writer/director Michael Mohan went about reviving a genre that’s lain dormant for about a quarter of a century.
“I don’t believe I’ve had something like this in my generation, growing up,” she says. “And so being able to be a part of it—and hopefully be at the start of this genre for the next generation—is really cool. And I’m excited to see what they think of it! Throughout the entire process, it was it was just this emotional roller coaster, as you probably saw on the film.”
To prepare for the shoot, Sweeney took a crash course in the genre.
“I definitely dove into Fatal Attraction and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, all of those classic erotic thrillers, but we definitely wanted to modernize [The Voyeurs] for today,” she says. “There is, like, that retro feel because Mike didn’t want text messages popping up on the screen, that kind of thing. We aren’t just diving into our electronics the entire time.”
Something else that connects The Voyeurs to those movies is a willingness to take its thriller elements to some fairly extreme places. No bunnies are boiled in the movie, but there’s some pretty gialloesque imagery just the same.
“It was definitely fun to read for the first time,” Sweeney says of the script. “I was on such a crazy emotional and mental ride during it…. I thought I was at the end, and all of a sudden I looked and I have 20, 30 pages left and I couldn’t believe it.”
And then there’s the “erotic” aspect of the whole thing.
“It actually serves a purpose to the story,” Sweeney says. “And I think that’s something that Mike did brilliantly; he didn’t just throw in sex to make [things] sexy or beautiful in any sense…. The characters and their emotional journeys were more important than the promiscuity that just, like, is on screen sometimes.”
Oh, and there’s one neat trick you should keep in mind when you watch The Voyeurs.
“We actually filmed the movie backwards,” Sweeney says. “Mike wanted to get all our exterior scenes done before we hit the dead of winter, so we shot that—and then the apartment [scenes] they shot backwards. They’d set the entire apartment, and as time went on, they would remove things as we would go. The last scene we filmed was the scene where we moved in…so I had to make sure that I was [always] knowing where I was coming from and going having to kind of put these puzzle pieces together.”
The Voyeurs is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video Canada. Listen to the entire conversation in the latest episode of the NOW What podcast, available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or playable directly below: