Director: Jon Amiel
Written by: Ann Biderman and David Madsen
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney, William McNamara, Will Patton and John Rothman
The 1990s was a decade of strong dark thrillers and crime stories. From The Silence of the Lambs and Scorsese’s Cape Fear to The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense, there is something for everyone and now that we are over two full decades past the 90s, it’s easy for so many films to be forgotten and left behind. Kalifornia starring Brad Pitt and David Duchovny being a perfect example of a film that not enough people talk about. Another example is Copycat from 1995 which had great reviews when it was first released and made a decent amount at the box office. Over time it has been largely forgotten about.
A serial killer who is copying the methods and styles of previous serial killers is haunting the streets. Dr Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver, Alien, Ghostbusters), a criminal psychologist, who is suffering with agoraphobia after a horrific attack, may be able to help solve the crime. Hudson joins forces with Inspector Mary Jane Monahan (Holly Hunter, The Piano, The Firm), to bring the killer to justice.
The strongest element of Copycat is the performances, especially Weaver, who in of the best performances of her career, brings life to Dr Helen Hudson. The first scene starts with her, before the attack, giving a guest lecture and standing tall with confidence. After being attacked after the lecture in a horrific moment, that will make you scared to use public bathrooms, her confidence is gone. As the film progresses, we see her as an almost hollow version of herself, and Weaver’s body language changes completely to show this. It elevates the whole film and makes it worth watching. The rest of the cast is great as well, but it’s Weaver who steals the show.
The story, while chilling in places and an interesting premise, does start to drag towards the end. It’s predictable in its twists and it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before or since. This was released very shortly after Seven and pales in comparison to that flair, originality, and visuals that Seven puts on display. It feels like the 90s were a time to be obsessed with dark crime stories about serial killers. If it wasn’t for the performances from Hunter and especially Weaver, Copycat would not be worth revisiting and while it isn’t essential viewing, it’s a good watch. It’s easy to understand why this one hasn’t stood the test of time like so many others.