Jon Amiel’s 1995 psychological horror flick COPYCAT is both gripping and intelligent. With a dark sense of foreboding throughout, COPYCAT never allows us to be one step ahead. Refreshingly we are in-step with the characters as they try to outwit the killer in this stylish and tense film, which never quite lets us draw breath.
Criminal psychologist Dr. Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) has a narrow escape from a serial killer, and as a result becomes a paranoid recluse who suffers from agoraphobia. With only the internet, newspaper, and police scanners to keep her abreast of the outside world, Helen is strangely content in the apartment she shares with her gay house-mate. The sanctuary that
she’s created however soon becomes endangered when Helen is forced to deal with a new breed of serial killer, one which doesn’t follow her well-researched trends; one which threatens her very existence.
Helen reluctantly finds herself helping the police investigation. The cop with attitude comes in the form of M.J. Monahan (Holly hunter) who, along with her womanising partner Reuben Goetz (Dermot Mulroney) persuades Helen to help build a profile of the killer from the security of her apartment. When that security is violated Helen must face her fears. It is here that we see the true depth of Sigourney Weaver’s talents. We already know from the Alien films that she can play a kick-ass hero, but here we see an insecure, frightened but determined woman dealing with complex issues and real terror. The real scene stealer though is Holly hunter who lights up each of her scenes and plays the feisty detective with great heart. These two very different but likeable characters bring Copycat to life and will have you on the edge of your seats for the duration.
What’s really refreshing about Copycat is its intelligence, there’s no whodunit, no pondering on which one of the good guys may actually be the perpetrator. It’s a straight forward film, with an air of menace which takes you from the comfort of your living room to the frighteningly disorientating world of an agoraphobic forced to dive back into a world she hoped she had left for good. The normally squeaky clean Harry Connick Jr. Plays grimy southern serial killer Daryll Lee Callum almost too convincingly, and succeeds in making our flesh crawl as we recoil from this hideous character.
The cinematography is more than adequate, but what pulls Copycat above the norm is its intelligence and pace. Nothing is over explained, the audience is treated to a gripping 123 minutes of entertainment. And when I press play, that’s what I’m looking for.
COPYCAT (1995) Writer/Director: Jon Amiel. Cast: Sigourney Weaver, holly hunter, Dermot Mulroney, William McNamara, Harry Connick Jr.
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