Picks and Pans Review: Copycat

updated 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney, Harry Connick Jr.

Brian DePalma notwithstanding, no modern director's films have equaled the best thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock, but this creepy murder tale comes close. For one thing, director Jon Amiel (Sommersby) displays some of the master's ability to sustain tension even after it has become obvious who the murderer is. For another, producers Arnon Milchan and Mark Tarlov lined up a charismatic cast.

The weak link is Hunter, so wide-eyed and coquettish she seems a little cutesy-poo to be a San Francisco homicide detective. She and her partner, the accomplished Mulroney, are investigating a string of murders when they enlist the aid of Weaver, a psychologist who studies serial killers.

Writers Ann Biderman and Jay Presson Allen add an intriguing fillip by making Weaver an agoraphobic so terrified of leaving her apartment, she can barely step out the door to get her newspaper. However, the writers show little understanding of how big-city cops behave, suggesting police are preoccupied by on-the-job romance, in this case a triangle involving Hunter and Mulroney, as well as the reliably subtle Will Patton as Hunter's ex-partner and jealous ex-boyfriend.

The villain is an ingenious creation, though, a Milquetoasty sort of computer nerd who mimics the crimes of such notorious serial criminals as David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), Jeffrey Dahmer and Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler). Inevitably the killer becomes annoyed by Weaver's intrusion and starts stalking her. As the investigation progresses, Weaver also becomes smitten with Mulroney and vice versa.

From Our Partners