Synopsis – A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror – Peeping Tom
Director – Michael Powell
Released – 1960
For fans of – Rear Window, Don’t Look Now, Secret Window
Very ahead of its time, Peeping Tom is a perfect example of a movie that upon release was vilified by large portions of the press, but over time has garnered the praise I feel it deserves for its groundbreaking elements and willingness to take risks, some of which are quite shocking, even by today’s standards.
Told from the point of view of the killer, Peeping Tom is considered by some the British answer to Psycho, but unlike the Hitchcock classic, here the movie doesn’t keep you in the dark about the killer and their motives, instead, it treats the audience as voyeurs spying in on the life of Mark Lewis (Bohm) just as he spies on those around him, making you feel somewhat sympathetic towards him, while still disgusted by the brutal/cruel murders performs.
Boasting striking direction from Powell, it’s a shame that Peeping Tom derailed his career. This is an intriguing story that finds a way to unnerve you with its imposing atmosphere and intelligent dialogue. Released a few years later, I truly believe this would have catapulted Powell to greater things, maybe taking him across the Atlantic just as many British directors had done before and since.
The last thing that I really want to go over would be the effects. We don’t really see a lot of blood and gore, which is understandable for the time, instead, it’s the excellent cinematography and the imagination of the audience that does the heavy lifting to create horrifying imagery.
Subtle and sinister Peeping Tom may be one of the first slasher movies and possibly found-footage, which makes it somewhat easier to see why audiences would have been so disgusted back then, but, when viewed through modern eyes, this is a masterpiece of horror cinema and a must watch for fans of the genre.