Hot on the heels of Seven, another very unconventional thriller has arrived in theaters: Copycat, an equally creepy film with the thematic premise that there really are an awful lot of sick people out there.
Judging from Copycat, there’s more of them than we’re giving credit to. Copycat is the story of a serial killer apparently chasing psychologist Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver). The only problem is, some 13 months earlier, another killer (Harry Connick Jr.) almost got her, and the experience was enough for her to lock herself into her snazzy apartment for good. When killer #2 comes around, two detectives, M.J. (Holly Hunter) and Ruben (Dermot Mulroney) try to solve the mystery. This is a much more disturbing and difficult task than it first seems, entangling everyone in an intensely engaging plot full of surprises and ‘rule-breaking’ twists.
The acting in Copycat is top-notch. Even the normally blasé Mulroney seems to be remarkably cognizant of his surroundings and manages to bring his character to life. Weaver is typically good, nearly reprising her fabulous role in Death and the Maiden, but Hunter frequently steals the show from everyone. Connick is immensely disturbing in his small part, with which he obviously had a lot of fun; you won’t hear his crooning the same again. Jon Amiel’s direction is similarly good.
Unfortunately, much like Seven, Copycat has a number of long periods of expository drama at its beginning, plainly attempting to replicate the cool interaction among the characters in The Silence of the Lambs. This is where Seven and Copycat both failed: it’s simply impossible to figure out why the killer is that interested in the heroes, or to become that enthralled with them ourselves. Luckily, by the time we hit 45 minutes, the almost painful suspense has far overtaken the sappy melodrama.
And that suspense is worth it. Copycat is well-paced and inevitably reaches a nail-biting conclusion that I wouldn’t dare reveal. Not to mention, the film actually has the first really worthwhile denouement I’ve seen in years. Be sure to stick around until you see the credits roll.