(director: Jon Amiel; screenwriters: David Madsen, Ann Biderman; cinematographer: Laslo Kovacs; editors: Jim Clark, Alan Heim; music: Christopher Young; cast: Sigourney Weaver (Helen Hudson), Harry Connick Jr. (Daryll Lee Cullum), Holly Hunter (M. J. Monahan), William McNamara (Peter Foley), Dermot Mulroney (Ruben Goetz), J.E. Freeman (Lt. Quinn), Will Patton (Nicoletti), John Rothman (Andy), Shannon O’Hurley (Susan Schiffer), Bob Greene (Pachulski), Tony Haney (Kerby), Danny Kovacs (Kostas), Tahmus Rounds (Landis), Scott DeVenney (cop # 1), David Michael Silverman (Mike); Runtime: 123; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mark Tarlov; Warner Home Video; 2023)
“It’s one of the better thrillers of the 1990s.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A stylish and inventive thriller about a San Francisco serial killer on the loose that’s directed by Brit filmmaker Jon Amiel (“The Core”/”Entrapment”) and smartly written by Ann Biderman and David Madsen.
The timid Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver) is a criminal psychologist and best-selling author specializing on serial killers, who keeps to herself inside her high-tech apartment ever since a psychopath, Daryll Lee Cullum (Harry Connick Jr.), was arrested after he failed to kill her in a bathroom attack after a lecture she gave on serial killers.
The murder investigation is led by the tough-minded SF police detective M. J. Monahan (Holly Hunter, who gives the film’s best performance) and her partner Ruben Goetz (Dermot Mulroney). When the murders start piling up, as the copycat killer starts doing his thing, a befuddled Monahan seeks advice from the frightened Helen. They soon realize they are dealing with a copycat killer (William McNamara), thinking of himself as an artist, who imitates the famous crimes of history. The detectives then must try and figure out where the killer will next strike. This requires Helen to leave her safe haven for the first time in over a year to assist the police.
In this well-crafted, imaginative and suspenseful film, with great location shots of the city, the bathroom-set climax is the film’s real corker. It’s one of the better thrillers of the 1990s, that’s superbly acted by Hunter and Weaver. Though it might not be dark enough to have more of an impact over the many other serial killer films around today, it still stands out as a fine example of a serial killer drama.
REVIEWED ON 9/13/2023 GRADE: B