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Case Number 14553: Small Claims Court

Buy Copycat at Amazon


Lionsgate // 2008 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 19th, 2008

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All Rise...

There are far too many Judge David Johnson copycats out there!

Editor's Note

Our review of Copycat (Blu-ray), published August 18th, 2011, is also available.

The Charge

He learned from the masters.

The Case

The serial killer genre is a crowed one, no doubt, so how does one negotiate the field without getting lost in the sea of familiar faces and mediocrity? How about jam a whole bunch of serial killers into one movie who combine, Voltron-like, into The Ultimate Serial Killer. This sleazy bastard is involved in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse with a journalist Laura Nelson (Chloe Snyder) who is in a relentless pursuit to avenge her mother's grisly demise at the hands of said killer.

As Laura and the cops track the guy down, they discover he's a devoted follower of history's most notorious killers—Dahmer, Gein, Ramirez, BTK, Bundy, Gacy, all the hits—and is emulating those guys in his murderous rampage. He leaves behind diary entries detailing his fevered mind, which ultimately play a major role in the torturing on the journalist's mind—and the ambiguous ending that I found irritating but I suppose is necessary.

So that's what lies in store for you. The film is well-staged, and has a nice look to it, sporting a feature-like appearance, which runs counter to the straight-to-DVD, budget-conscious par-for-the-course horror release that seem to populate the Lionsgate catalog these days. Director Andy Hurst does a good job and elicits decent stuff from his cast, specifically Snyder, whose character is a strong female role who turns up the juice at the end when she squares off with the killer at the finale.

But despite these modest accolades, in the end, Copycat just doesn't make itself a thriller that deserves to be looked at. Frankly, the killer isn't terribly interesting. He's the typical sneering, overwrought creation that you've seen in millions of other serial killer outings. The actor does what he's told, but ultimately who gives a crap. He's crazy, loves the killing, and totally deserves his comeuppance. Weirdly, almost the entire final third is devoted to a back-and-froth between him and Laura, including an extended flashback sequence that totally disrupts the flow of the pacing. There are a couple of segments like this woven into the narrative and while I can how Hurst is trying to put a spin on things, the technique comes across as forced and distracting.

Not that he had a choice. As mediocre as the story is, without these experimental departures, it might have even been tougher going. At least those elements gave me something to talk about and there's a chance you might get a kick out of them. I didn't, but at least I was able to burn through lots more words talking about what is ultimately a disposable horror film than I would have.

The disc is no-frills: a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 audio and no extras.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Horror
• Mystery

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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