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« Review: GLOW (Season 3) | Main | Oscar Predictions for August Complete! »
Monday
Aug122019

Horror Actressing: Sigourney Weaver in "Copycat"

by Jason Adams

Something I look forward to every single year, Film at Lincoln Center's annual week-long "Scary Movies" series, is hitting here in New York this forthcoming weekend -- check out the entire stellar run of films at this link here. While I'm most excited for Ari Aster's "Director's Cut" of Midsommar, which runs half an hour longer than the one we saw in theaters, they're mixing up showings of brand new flicks and old under-screened classics in ways that really set my toes to tingle. 

In that vein I was tempted to use this week's edition of our "Great Moments in Horror Actressing" series to talk about a performance not very many people have seen yet -- that of Maeve Higgins in Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman's horror-comedy Extra Ordinary, which I saw this past month thanks to the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal (here's my review) and which is screening this weekend at FLC. Maeve, in her first leading lady role, absolutely shines. 

But we'll save that for when the very funny movie gets a proper release. Especially since FLC is also screening Jon Amiel's terrifically under-valued 1995 serial killer flick Copycat, starring two of our great actresses, Holly Hunter and today's focus-of-post, Sigourney effing Weaver...

Sigourney plays a criminal psychologist named Helen Hudson who specializes in serial killers who becomes agoraphobic after a near-death run-in with one of them -- when another killer shows up who's aping famous killings Helen's forced to pop her head out of her luxurious apartment long enough to help the cops (Hunter and Dermot Mulroney) find the bad guy. 

One thing that I love about Copycat is its fun-house inversion of Silence of the Lambs, the gold star that all serial killer flicks were chasing in the 1990s -- instead of being forced to make a deal with the devil, aka a Hannibal Lecter, the detective turns to a capable (if damaged) female victim of violence, and together the women solve the mystery. And casting Sigourney, the seemingly fifteen-foot-tall movie-star bad-ass who stuck her boot so far up an alien queen's backside it flew back into outer space, as a woman who wears smart sweater sets and crumbles to dust if she has to step outside her door for delivery, well, it's a terrific stroke of genius.

And naturally Sigourney rises tall to the challenge. Helen is as vivid a woman to me as any of Weaver's career-full coterie of characters - Weaver makes her fear so palpable and breathless that just watching her turns my own face blue from forgetting how my own lungs work. She becomes terror incarnate. Fright takes guts, a real loosening of the self and letting go, and at this point in Weaver's career she could've played this sort of role safe -- Helen never once feels safe; she feels like the walls caving in. 

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Reader Comments (18)

... such an underrated film and sooo brilliant performances by Weaver and Hunter. Connick Jr has a RIOT with his role, also.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

I absolutely adore this movie and Sigourney in it. It's great. And because of its effectiveness my mother was afraid to go into public bathrooms for a long time afterwards.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

It's a real type of 90's thriller the ladies are ace in it,the score is good,Dermot is adorably cute and kind you really feel his departure plus it's extremely creepy esp the gay help being killed and did you know the ending was reshot.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I agree whole-heartedly that COPYCAT is criminally underrated (pun intended) and fantastically re-watchable. However, I can't share the enthusiasm concerning Weaver's performance. She is OK but nothing special, particularly when sharing the screen with a dynamite, Oscar worthy Holly Hunter, who is absolutely incredible. Hunter is like Streep in that she takes every role and creates nuance and depth that goes beyond the written words. COPYCAT is also my favorite drinking-game movie. Take a shot every time Weaver takes off and puts back on her reading glasses - you'll be sloshed by the closing credits.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterUncle Jeff

This is a disturbing movie where I hated the actor playing the serial killer so much that I felt affirmed in my hatred when I found out he broke the stunt woman's nose in a scene.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

That’s method ^^^!

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBC

This is the first thriller i saw in my life and i love it. For me is more a hand-to-hand of performances between Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver, both are fantastic.

The moment in which Helen drops her shoe is just brilliant.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

It's a pretty good film as Weaver is great in it but the twist in the end is a total letdown.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

The ending was reshot in late 95.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I had an intense Dermot Mulroney phase in the 90s. He's adorable here.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy -- didn't we all!?!

August 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This film was made for the double lead actress Oscar nominations. Golden Globes, at LEAST. This may be my favorite Weaver performance showcasing just how immense her charisma and star power truly is.

Adding Hunter to the mix as a very specifically modulated and performed counterpoint to Weaver just sweetens the deal.

Talk about Girl Power.

Also, Christopher Young’s best score since Hellraiser, rightfully used in almost every suspense trailer or commercial from then on until the early ‘00s.

Love it love love it.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterManny

Remember video stores? That's where I picked this up one evening and was very happy I did. I guess it did ok at the box office, but this film was a big favourite at the video store.
Weaver is always good value, and Hunter was a bonus.
Nice choice.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Trivia to add to this particular thread: Jane Campion based Ada on Sigourney Weaver and was unable to get the script to Weaver because her agent rejected the project outright.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

A movie I've seen several times. Never disappoints!

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Saw this twice in the theater when it came out. Loved it.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Love, love this movie. Truly scary.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I get that it's well-acted and of course I adore the top billed duo, but I remember it being very movie-of-the-week in its time. Maybe a revisit is in order.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

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