Screening Room

You’re a Creep

Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom takes voyeurism to truly unsettling heights.

Welcome to the Slate Screening Room! In this new video series, Aisha Harris and Slate culture staff will delve deeply into the world of movies, from the obscure to the iconic, from the beloved to the loathed or just plain misunderstood. Think of it as a fun film class without all of the rigorous academic homework assignments and meaningless grades.

When you think about cinematic explorations of voyeurism, the first example that comes to mind is probably Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and for good reason. But there’s another film, one that’s not quite as well known, which was released just a few years after the Master of Suspense’s classic, and which also plays brilliantly with the sinister complexities of the gaze: Peeping Tom, directed by Michael Powell.

The two films share a bit in common: Both feature leading men with careers in the visual arts—a photographer and aspiring filmmaker, respectively—and voyeuristic tendencies, but that’s about where the similarities end. And while it may not seem so on first viewing, Peeping Tom takes the viewer to unsettling heights not reached even in Rear Window.