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Posted by martinteller on December 3, 2013

Psychologist and serial killer expert Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) is attacked and forced to watch an officer get killed by maniac Daryll Lee Cullum (Harry Connick Jr).  The incident leaves her scarred to the point of agoraphobia, trapped in her apartment using mainly the internet to connect her to the outside world.  When she notices a pattern in recent killings, however, she reaches out to detectives Monahan (Holly Hunter) and Goetz (Dermot Mulroney) to offer her theories.  The killer (William McNamara) is recreating a series of murders by famous serial killers.  As Helen becomes more involved with the investigation, her life is in greater peril.

The idea of a “copycat” is a pretty good premise for a serial killer movie, and being somewhat of a fan of the genre (as well as true crime serial killer stories), I felt this had a lot of potential.  However, the movie can’t seem to step out of the shadow of Silence of the Lambs nor is it as distinctive as Se7en, released at roughly the same time.  It feels like a mishmash of familiar tropes drawing from Demme’s film and similar thrillers (I got a big Brian De Palma vibe too).  Elements that should feel original — the agoraphobia, the two female leads, the copycat murders — become lost under writing clichés.  Also, McNamara rubs me the wrong way, he’s trying way too hard to be interesting.  And while I’m griping, the internet stuff is quite laughable.

It’s not all bad… Weaver and Hunter are both compelling enough to make you care about the characters even when the story becomes entirely too predictable.  The Connick role is similar to Hannibal Lecter (the killer who helps the police catch another killer) but only in dramatic purpose… the character itself has a freshness, aided by Connick’s oddball performance.  Some moments are effective at building tension.  It’s not really a bad movie, and there are good ideas to be found.  I dunno, looking at other reviews (most of which are quite positive) makes me wonder if I’m being too harsh, but too much of it seemed hacky or overly familiar for me to really get into it.  Rating: Fair (67)


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