12 May 2016 | Lechuguilla
Unique Psychological Thriller
An interesting idea here is that we have two professional women dealing with the issue of violence against women. Sigourney Weaver plays Helen Hudson, author and expert on serial killers who becomes agoraphobic after an encounter with a killer. Holly Hunter plays M.J. Monahan, slightly nasal lead detective who smiles a lot and looks just out of high school but who can be as steely and relentless as any male cop.
Most of the plot binds Helen and M.J. in their pursuit of an intelligent serial killer who terrorizes San Francisco. It's the chemistry between the two women that make "Copycat" somewhat unique among the list of psychological thrillers. There's plenty of suspense, with gloved hands, shadowy figures, and silence. Long camera takes enhance creepy tension as does odd camera angles.
As with most thrillers of this kind, the killer seems to know exactly where to be and when to be there, and that's a genre problem. There are also some story clichés, like dependence on television news and the use of computers to convey information to the audience. I did not like the bathroom segments, and Harry Connick Jr. needs to confine his efforts to his great music. The film's climax descends into unrealistic silliness.
Production design is fine. Of note is Helen's elaborate and modern apartment, wherein almost one-third of the film takes place. The score varies appropriately from melancholy to eerie to classical. But I dislike the song "Murder By Numbers", mercifully played just once. Casting is credible; acting is above average. Weaver gives a convincing performance, and Holly Hunter is good in every movie I have seen her.
A lot of research went into this film on serial killers. For example, we know that most organized serial killers hide behind a mask of normalcy; and in a couple of early scenes our killer shows up as just another average Joe, undetectable in his apparent sanity.
The story here is a bit contrived. But it draws viewers in with lots of tension and suspense. And with the performances of Weaver and Hunter, the film's imperfections seem less severe.