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Aug 12 2019

Horror Actressing: Sigourney Weaver in "Copycat"

byJason 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 atthis link here.While I'm most excited for Ari Aster's "Director's Cut"ofMidsommar,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-comedyExtra 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 sinceFLC is also screeningJon Amiel's terrifically under-valued 1995 serial killer flickCopycat,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 aboutCopycatis its fun-house inversion ofSilence 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 (1)

...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

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