a critiQal film review Mimic (1997)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Three years ago, entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Sorvino) genetically engineered an insect to kill cockroaches carrying a virulent disease. Rather than dying out as she expected, the insects have taken on a life of their own, and are able to mimic and destroy their every predator - including man.

676 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 22s)
  • ...Director Guillermo del Toro combines the fears of creepy crawlers, gene manipulation and mankind's destruction from within into this creepfest that should leave the viewer satisfied - and with at least a slight case of the willies.

When checking out the “older releases” the other day at my local Blockbuster®, I noticed a film I’d heard of but never actually gotten around to see: Mimic, starring Mira Sorvino. Since I remember her fondly from John Woo’s The Replacement Killers (1998), I figured I’d give it a shot – especially when I saw it was directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth, etc.).

So would this ’97 horror flick be worth the rental, or would I be glad del Toro’s moved on to other genres?

Mira Sorvino isn’t quite up to her The Replacement Killers (1998) role, but she does a decent job in the sci-fi horror genre. Since she’s pretty sure about herself most of the time, thanks to her character’s knowledge of the enemy (so to speak), she’s more than just a female vocalist in the film (you know the type, the ones who are only there because they scream well). She contributes to the storyline and is more than just another pretty face in the picture.

In fact, her character’s fate is largely in question throughout, since she was the original creator of these bugs after all. While the movie goes on it’s merry way, this presents a question to the audience – should she liv or die? It’s an interesting character to give the audience to root for, since many may be unsure as to how to answer that question. It’s a dichotomy, but one that works to make the film that much more interesting, as the audience tries to gauge themselves for if – or when – her character dies, and whether they will be pleased with the outcome.

The rest of the cast, from a younger Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men (2007)) to Charles S. Dutton, do a decent job with their roles, but the true standout lies with young Alix Koromzay, a mimic of sorts himself. While he’s entirely human, he tends to mimic what he sees or hears, and sees the situation with a childlike wonderment that’s refreshingly innocent amidst the horror. As he blithely flirts with danger at almost every turn, the viewer will find themselves holding their breath at the possibility his innocence may be shattered (along with the rest of him) by the events around him.

The idea of man-made monsters coming back to haunt us is as old as time (isn’t Godzilla just a nuclear mutation?), and, judging by Mimic, it’s an idea that still works today. Of course, previously it was an unfortunate side effect of something we did (see Godzilla), but now it’s something we actually created through gene manipulation. Just like clones and aliens, the idea of something replicating us while destroying us from within is still a hot topic as well, as is the fear of creepy crawlies. Mimic combines these fears to bring us gene-manipulated insects that can walk amongst us unnoticed. Sure, it’s far-fetched, but on-screen it’s freaky as all get out.

Thankfully, the special effects are well done, keeping the scare factor intact. There is never a long shot of any of the bugs, rather fleeting glimpses that allow the mind’s eye to fill in all sorts of gory details, making these giant bugs even creepier to the viewer. Yet, there are enough glimpses of the creatures so the viewer won’t feel cheated, as so often is the case when a horror film tries to hard to make the viewer imagine the horror without giving them at least a taste of the creature.

If you’re in the mood for a film that will make your skin crawl, Mimic may be right up your alley. Sure, it’s got some faults, but it’s a solid horror movie that should creep you out, at least a little bit. And isn’t that what creature features like this one supposed to do? On top of that, it presents a moral dilemma to the audience, and even if it doesn’t follow up on it, at least it gives the viewer an excuse to use their mind – something horror films are not usually known for.

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