Mimic (1997)


As if the sewers weren’t disgusting enough.

After an insane roach problem threatened half of humanity three years ago, Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) and her husband Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) feel as if there is nothing else out there in the world to worry about, other than having a couple of babies and starting a family. However, all of those settling-down ideas are put to the side once some roaches stay alive and find a way to mutate into any species they oh so desire. Even humans! This means that Tyler and Mann have to get back into the groove of things, show up to work, and get ready to kill the roaches once and for all, but this time, they’re a little bit more powerful and hungry this time around and it’s going to be a lot easier said then done. Maybe.

This is the epitome of the type of creepy, gushy-flicks that Gulliermo del Toro loves to make. There’s oodles amounts of slime, creatures, people in distress, and even a couple of kids wandering around. It’s exactly the type of movie you expect from this dude, except for the fact that this one sort of blows. Okay, maybe it’s not as bad as I already have made it out to be, but you can already tell, right from the very beginning that this is the work of a guy who’s whining and dining at a bigger table than he’s used to, and eventually, the jig is going to be up and they’re going to ask for the check.

That means that del Toro bit-off a bit more than he could chew. Does that label it down for you out there?

Cool beans.

Scientists can get down and party too! Woo!
Scientists can get down and party too! Woo!

What I will say positive about del Toro’s direction is that the dude obviously loves the creatures and the havoc he has created for us to watch on screen. Most of the creatures are computer-animated, but each and every one has a fine line of detail that looks and feels real, as if you are almost right there. They don’t scare you like they should because they’re a bit corny to look at, but when they are all up in your grill here and show their violent-ways, I have to admit, even I was a bit freaked-out. Not because I thought I was going to get killed or anything, but because they were just disgusting-looking. Many horror movies do that with their monsters in order to have them be scary: the grosser, the scarier. It doesn’t quite work for me as much as it may for some horror-hounds out there, but I do have to admit that some of it does work, and some of it doesn’t. More good, than bad, but the bad does show.

However, the bad barely even shows because the whole freakin’ movie is dark. Seriously, practically the last 20 minutes of this movie is lit-up by a glow-stick and a small flashlight. That’s it. I get that, literally and figuratively, keeping the audience in the dark is supposed to keep us on the edge of our seats and even more scared with what’s next to come, but I need to see something, hell, anything in order to feel that way! I trust that del Toro really had some suspense to build on here, but it never quite latched onto me, mostly because I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on, and mostly, because I wasn’t all that interested.

Basically, the whole problem with this movie comes down to the script and how poorly-written it is. When I watch a horror movie, I don’t ask for a winning-screenplay about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, but I do ask for a little something more than just the same old lines I’ve heard time and time again. Somebody saying to an on-looker, “Look out!”, right before they get all caught up by a monster and eaten alive, or a moment where people decide to split-up because “that’s what’s best for now”, all just piss me off to high heavens and make it obviously clear why the horror genre has failed me so much in the past. That’s why come every Halloween, I’m always packing on the quality horror flicks that I’ve most likely missed, and get on top of them so I can actually feel happy for the genre that will never, ever go away, not even as each and every one that came before it gets a remake.

Look out! It's a buggy/roachy thingy!
Look out! It’s a buggy/roachy thingy!

Yup, wasn’t a fan of that one either.

But at least the Oscar-caliber cast is good and here to save the day, right? Ehhhh! Wrong! Despite Mira Sorvino being about 2 years past her Oscar win, she still seemed to want to cash in on the money, and not the respect, especially when she took a role as cut-and-dry as this. I’ll give Sorvino some credit, the lady’s natural charm and cuteness to her look makes this character more interesting than your usual, heroine in horror movies, but she does fall victim to some pretty shitty lines and uninspired actions her character takes. Then again, the gal’s smokin’, so I can’t be on her ass too much.

Jeremy Northam is here as her dorky hubby and does what he’s asked of, even if that is being insanely hokey; Charles S. Dutton is meant to be here for comedic-relief, and because every horror movie is strictly in need of a black character to kill off, especially once the murder-toll begins to tally-up; Josh Brolin plays Northam’s hot-shot buddy that’s a bit too big for his britches, but gets by on wit and just being cool (as always); F. Murray Abraham plays an aging, college professor who knows a bit too much dangerous shit to walk around and not tell anybody about, even though he plays it with enough class to make us feel like he knows what he’s doing and talking about, even if it is completely idiotic; and rounding it all out is Giancarlo Giannini plays a shoe-shiner who works in the subway where all of these roaches are hibernating, and gives the movie some much-needed warmth and depth as we see that the dude obviously cares for his “special” son, no matter how “special” he may be. And by “special”, I mean that the kid walks around, playing tunes with two spoons and his legs, and calling somebody “Mr. Funny Shoes”. Wow, nice subtlety there del Toro!

Consensus: People who love del Toro flicks, as well as the creature-feature flicks that are obviously famous in the horror genre, will have a blast with Mimic, if they can get by the over-familiarity of the plot, as well as the sure dumbness of the script and characters.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Sooooo rad."
“Sooooo rad.”
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7 comments

  1. This is definitely Guillermo del Toro’s weakest film. I didn’t like the autistic kid either since I thought it was kind of dumb. Still, it had some great element of horror. I saw 2 versions of the film. The theatrical cut which was OK while the Director’s Cut that del Toro released on Blu-Ray a few years ago is actually an improvement where he got rid of some things while filled in some parts of the story to add a bit of drama.

  2. Your review perfectly stated why I can’t stand this movie! It’s a fascinating idea, and the more disgusting, the better (for me anyway.) But the writing! So unforgivably terrible and stupid!

  3. The best thing to say about Mimic is that it’s better than Mimic 2 or Mimic 3! It’s a shame as there are clearly the elements there to make a good movie, just didn’t work. 😦

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