By Richard Winters
My Rating: 1 out of 10
4-Word Review: Voyeur witnesses a murder.
Harry Ross (Kenneth Gilman) is a businessman who enjoys taking a late night jog in the Toronto neighborhood in which he lives. One night he steps in dog poo and as he’s trying to scrape it off he notices a light coming from a nearby window. Out of curiosity he peers in and sees a half-naked woman (Jayne Catling) dancing provocatively. It turns him on and he decides to make it a point to peer into the window each night when he goes for a run. He though begins to feel guilty about what he’s doing and thinks he may be a ‘pervert’ and thus schedules an appoint with Alex (Dayle Haddon), who is a psychiatrist, so that they can talk it through. During their sessions he also becomes attracted to her and things slowly work into a relationship. While this is going on he continues to look into the window each night, but eventually witnesses the woman getting murdered and now must go into hiding inside Alex’s apartment as not only the police, who mistakenly think he did it as they get his prints off of the window, are after him, but so is the killer.
This film was directed by William Fruet, a prolific writer/director from Canada, who shot to fame with the excellent Wedding in White and then followed that up with a lot lame thrillers and horror films. While some of those were diverting this one isn’t and the tacky set-up is the biggest problem. The fact that Harry isn’t portrayed as being a life long voyeur, but instead quite literally just ‘stumbles’ upon it is farfetched and the character would’ve had more depth if this had been a constant trait that he had to deal with. Having him ‘panic’ that he was afraid this made him a ‘pervert’ was ridiculous too as I’d think just about any heterosexual guy would get aroused seeing a hot lady cavorting around erotically. The way he peers in, the camera captures it from the inside looking out, is quite obvious as his face is fully light, from the indoor lamps, and thus all the people needed to do was glance up briefly to see him, which I would think would’ve occurred at some point especially since he continues to do it over multiple nights. The fact that they always leave the window shade half open seems like they’re inviting someone to look in though the movie acts like this is unintentional and just a ‘coincidence’. The place is lit in a way that makes it seem like it’s a set for soft core porn flick and the woman behaves like an adult actress, which completely ruins any sliver of plausibility.
Initially I liked seeing Haddon, who was at one time a super model before she got into acting, cast as the therapist as this was traditionally at that time still more of a man’s profession, so she was playing against type, but having Harry immediately asks her out on a date was dumb. Due to this being a professional doctor and patient relationship he should’ve at least waited until after several sessions before he got up the nerve to do it and even then it’s putting her in an unethical spot and he should’ve known that. Fortunately she tells him ‘no’ the first couple of times, which is what she should’ve done, but I knew, going by how stupid this script had already been, that she’d eventually cave and of course she does, which makes the whole premise become even more ludicrous. Having her spot him at a fancy restaurant was too coincidental in such a big city and having his girlfriend perform a sexual act while inside the place with all sorts of people around was over-the-top. If anything Haddon should’ve just been cast as his girlfriend, who just happens to work as therapist, and he could’ve still spoken to her about his voyeurism in private when they were together and this would’ve helped made it more believable.
It does get a bit intriguing for a few minutes when the police begin to close-in on Harry and I enjoyed the inner-rivalry of the police department where the two lead detectives became irritated at how a young ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ kid (Alf Humphreys) was always coming up with new leads and clues before they did, but other than that there’s very little to recommend. The climactic sequence in which the killer ties Harry up while he’s inside Haddon’s apartment, is quite boring and the female actor who plays the culprit shows no panache and thus making her scenes quite dull. In 1989, at the request of no one, this was made into a sequel, but with a completely different writer, director and actors with the only thing connecting the two being the Harry Ross character.
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: November 30, 1984
Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Director: William Fruet
Studio: Pan-Canadian Film Distributors