Starring: Carl Boehm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey
Director: Michael Powell
Running Time: 101 mins
Peeping Tom is a British film about a serial killer who murders women while filming their reactions of terror at the moment of death.
Delivering the perfect level of terror while telling a gripping story, Peeping Tom is as intriguing as it is disturbing. Its controversial reputation for luridity may not quite hold up in the modern day, but that doesn’t take away from what is an undeniably impressive and enthralling film.
First off, you might have heard of Peeping Tom as one of those films that’s good, but so disturbing you’ll never want to watch it again. For me, it’s not quite on that level, and although it’s far from a comfortable watch, it isn’t an overwhelmingly gruesome or disturbing film.
What’s most striking about Peeping Tom is the way it uses its more gruesome moments to develop a deeper character study. This isn’t a film about murder and disturbing sexual fetishes, but rather a gripping insight into the mind of a killer, filled with tension and uneasy drama throughout.
It’s not a gory, gruesome slasher, as most of the story’s nastiest moments are left to the imagination, but that lends it a stronger air of mystery that makes diving into the killer’s psyche all the more fascinating.
What’s more, the film proves almost sympathetic to the killer throughout, portraying him as the main character, and with an unnerving yet often strangely comforting performance from Carl Boehm.
That’s where the morals of the story might prove most controversial, but Peeping Tom brilliantly walks that tightrope as it delivers far more insightful dramatic depth than any film purely about a villain could ever do.
The more sympathetic perspective makes the killer all the more terrifying, as you too come close to falling under his odd charm, allowing you to sympathise all the more with and fear for the young women who do fall victim to him.
And with striking cinematography, dazzling visuals and powerful directing, the film is every bit as exciting as it is filled with intrigue.
In short, Peeping Tom is a gripping watch. It might not be quite as terrifying as its long-standing reputation may suggest, but it’s a bold and impressive film that puts a riveting spin on the slasher genre.
With an insightful look at the mind of a killer, along with a great lead performance and striking cinematic style throughout, Peeping Tom is disturbing, exciting and enthralling all the way through, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.