While most of us have extreme distaste for serial killers, movie producers seem to love them, or to love creating stories about their sordid activities. Yesterday, this column reviewed "Red Dragon," a suspense film featuring the notorious Hannibal Lector. Over the years, serial killers have been the villains in many thrillers and since authentic serial killers to be men, as do the detectives that capture them, these tend to be male dominated flicks. However, it is possible to have a serial killer film starring women and a good example is "Copycat," which came out in 1995.
"Copycat" is set in San Francisco and stars Sigourney Weaver as Helen Hudson, a smart psychologist who gives popular lectures on serial killers. After one of these well-attended lectures, the poised and polished professional woman is brutally attacked and nearly killed. They plot resumes several months later, she has become agoraphobic and does not leave her apartment. She is addicted to pills and alcohol. Tough detectives Monahan (played by Holly Hunter) and Goetz (played by Dermot Mulroney) ask her to help with their stalled investigation of a serial killer. Helen notices that the killer is doing his murders based on those of famous killers, such as David Berkowitz and Ted Bundy.
"Copycat" has an unpredictable story. This helps the movie feel realistic. It also creates a lot suspense. All of the characters are in at least some danger. The story uses real life serial killer narratives in ways that move the story in innovative directions.
Sigourney Weaver is perfect as Helen. She is very convincing in showing her character transform from a confident modern woman into a substance abusing agoraphobic. Holly Hunter is equally good as Detective Monahan, who is smart and dedicated to her job. Another strong performance is by Harry Connick Jr., who plays the unbalanced killer who attacks Helen at the beginning of the film.
"Copycat" is an excellent choice for fans of thrillers.