Directed by Jon Amiel in 1995, Copycat tends to get brushed under the rug when talking about serial killer movies, forever doomed to live in the shadow of the Oscar winning The Silence Of The Lambs. While Amiel's picture isn't as good as Demme's blockbuster, it's still a very worthwhile movie and it manages to offer an interesting take on what would quickly become a played out genre.
The story follows a criminal profiler and expert psychologist named Dr. Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) who suffers from severe agoraphobia due to some past trauma - she was attacked by a serial killer named Daryll Lee Callum (Harry Connick Jr.) after a lecture at a university. As such, despite her brilliant mind, she's more or less stuck in her apartment, too afraid to venture outside where she knows she would be of more use to the authorities currently trying to stop a copycat serial killer named Peter Foley (William McNamara) from striking again. She's savvy enough to use the internet for her work, but just can't bring herself to step outside. Foley is a smart one, however, and he not only knows of Hudson but he knows that her weakness works to his advantage and that it'll only help him in his goal to become one of the most famous serial killers of all time, taking what they've done and upping the ante in his own sick way.
Two detectives assigned to the case - M. J Monahan (Holly Hunter) and Reuben Goetz (Dermot Mulroney) - are doing everything they can to track Foley down and to prevent another in his increasingly long line of murders, but with some help from Hudson, they just might have a shot.
Very well written and just as well acted, Copycat should be a bigger film than it is. Front and center at the reasoning behind that statement are the two lead performances from Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver. Hunter, small in stature, manages to really conjure up some serious screen presence for this role and while she's constantly surrounded by people much larger than herself (including the considerably taller Weaver), she projects so well that you believe her character has the strength and determination to get her job done. Weaver, on the other hand, is almost the polar opposite of Hunter here. Taller, much larger and more intimidating in appearance, her character is weak, damaged goods thanks to the attack from Connick Jr., and rather withdrawn which stands in direct contrast to Hunter's outgoing detective. Both leading ladies play their roles very well and are never less than completely convincing, while the supporting cast all do admirably well in their parts too.
From a visual standpoint, Copycat also has much to admire. There's a keen sense of attention to detail in the why that the murder set pieces are constructed and Foley's determination to recreate famous crime scene photos of the past lets the crew really work some interesting shots and camera angles into the story. The cinematography is slick, sometimes a little on the cold side but that's in keeping with the story and not at all out of place, while the score does a good job of helping to heighten certain scenes of tension and to lend others some emotional weight that goes a long way towards helping us feel for the characters and their plight.
On top of that, the film does a good job of keeping us guessing. There's a good twist in the storyline that, when watching the movie for the first time at least, you won't expect. As such, there are a few good scares and the end result is a smart, stylish thriller with some great performances and an interesting take on a fairly played out genre.
Copycat arrives on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 2.35.1 in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen transfer which generally looks okay but not much better than that. There's a noticeably amount of video noise present throughout the movie and detail, while obviously improved over what standard definition presentations can offer, isn't particularly revelatory. Close up shots fare better than medium and long distance shots in this regard, which isn't a surprise, and they can sometimes look very good but overall the image is a bit on the flat side and lacks the depth and texture we expect from the best that Blu-ray can provide. On the plus side, the image is clean, the colors are handled well, the black levels are decent and there aren't any serious problems with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts. The image isn't horrible, it's just not remarkable.
Audio options are handled by an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, though Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixes are provided in English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese with optional subtitles available in English SDH, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. As to the lossless track, it sounds very good actually. Gun shots pack a heavy punch and surround channels are used well to spread out the score and some welcome ambient and background noise in a few key scenes. Dialogue is easy to understand and to follow and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to complain about.
Extras are slim, limited to a commentary by Director Jon Amiel and the film's original theatrical trailer. The commentary is periodically interesting when Amiel discusses the details of making the film but he tends to get a little too involved in watching the film for his own good and spends more time telling us what's happening on the screen than about why it's happening or how he made it happen. He does share some interesting stories about a few key scenes and about working with the cast, so it's not a total loss - but it certainly could have been more in-depth than it is.
A fairly clever, well written and well acted serial killer film, Copycat holds up well and if this Blu-ray release isn't the most amazing disc out there from a technical standpoint, it does offer a noticeable improvement over the DVD release even if it doesn't give us any new extras. The film itself is a good one, and this release comes recommended for that reason.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.