Copycat (DVD, 2009) Reviews
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Copycat (DVD, 2009)

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Turning Murder Into Art: Copycat (1995)

Mar 2, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Holly Hunter, Sigourney Weaver, Direction, Story, Score, Supporting cast


The Bottom Line: Must see thriller that raises the bar for the detective genre.

If you’re a fan of detective movies, you’re going to love Copycat. This 1995 film surpasses the much lauded Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” series in intelligence and all out thrills and chills.

Rather than using your typical square-jawed cop for a protagonist, Copycat uses a pair of women as the main characters.

Sigourney Weaver is a famous psychologist who specialized in serial killers. Following one particular lecture, she was attacked by a serial killer herself but somehow was saved before he finished her. The killer, well played by Harry Connick, Jr., is now in prison but nonetheless Dr. Hudson has been housebound since the traumatic experience over a year before. She spends her time in her posh San Francisco apartment washing down pills with booze and trying to forget. Recent news gets Dr. Hudson (Weaver) certain that there’s another serial killer on the loose. She incessantly calls the police to tip them off. This introduces the second character, the detective assigned to the case.

Inspector M. J. Monahan (Holly Hunter) is shown chiding her partner that he should not shoot to kill as long as he has a clear shot to disable the criminal. These words will come back to haunt her later. After the third murder, Monahan’s gut tells her it is a serial killer but the boss tells her to keep it to herself. She takes photos from the crime scenes to show Dr. Hudson to get her expert opinion if it is a serial killer. Hudson has a panic attack and Monahan and her partner, Ruben Goetz (Dermot Mulroney) leave shaking their heads. Once Hudson regains her senses she looks at the pictures, thoughtfully left with the housekeeper by M. J., and can place them as perfect copies of famous crimes. The only thing is, they are all from different murderers and there is no obvious order to them. After a few more murders it becomes apparent that there is a single murderer and he is following a pattern but what is it?

Copycat is a film that shows how much can be done with the genre but is so often sadly lacking in detective thrillers. Director John Amiel did a tremendous job of putting the story on celluloid. The plot is pure fantasy, like many detective stories, but in Amiel’s hands it is believable and scary as all get out. Unlike some stories that have the viewer trying to guess whodunit, Amiel confidently introduces the killer before the halfway point and builds unbearable tension as the viewer (and the police) try to fathom why and who is next. Amiel skillfully cuts between takes of the psychologist, the cops, and the killer and weaves a web of tension with long takes, odd camera angles, and subjective views of what Dr. Hudson sees. The film editing, set design, and photography is peerless.

Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver both turn in strong performances with very opposite characters. Hunter is a matter-of-fact type and Weaver is very emotional - in fact a nervous wreck. Harry Connick, Jr. gives a stellar few minutes in his small but key part, while the rest of the supporting cast, including Dermot Mulroney, William MacNamara, and Will Patton do an extremely fine job also. The Christopher Young score is very creepy and adds a good bit to the tension, also.

The Warner Bros. DVD contains both standard and 2.35: 1 widescreen versions of the film. Extras include full-length commentary by Director John Amiel, production notes, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

I think Copycat will please even the most discriminating crime film buff. Five stars.

Recommend this product? Yes

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