Having enjoyed a big hit ripping off Hitchcock and adding dollops of sex and violence with Dressed to Kill, Brian De Palma returns to the well with this. It combines Rear Window and Vertigo with modern gore and sex, partially set in the world of porn films.
Jake Scully is a struggling actor who makes a new best friend who lets him house sit for a while. He watches the woman across the way masturbate; he follows her and they almost have sex; then he sees her get murdered. He spots similar masturbation techniques in a porno and tracks down the woman who does it and gets to know her - Holly. She's Kim Novak in Vertigo. She's in on the scam, only she's bad (in this draft anyway - I gather in the final film she was made into a goodie). I liked the twist where they let us think it was a Jake dream, then reveal it actually wasn't.
Its a well structured film - the story ticks along. I enjoy De Palma's writing style, which is a lot of short sentences as paragraphs.
There is a lot of sex and violence - the woman masturbating, the peeping tom, the housewife keen to have sex with her stalker, murder with a drill. I thought it was clever that Jake wound up appearing in a porn with Holly - the film actually "goes there" like that. I didn't quite buy that Gloria would kiss Jake after discovering him stalking her (this feels like a wet dream fantasy) and Sam's plan isn't that clever (it's to get an alibi, right? but won't it be easy to discover that he wasn't in that play once the police do cursory investigation? isn't it risky that Jake identifies him?)
Men are treacherous and women are sleazy sluts - it's weird that Avrech became so conservative (or maybe he already was). De Palma is a problematic filmmaker - he just loved women being killed - but he was very talented.