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  Mimic Join Our Insect Nation
Year: 1997
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Alexander Goodwin, Giancarlo Giannini, Charles S. Dutton, Josh Brolin, Alix Koromzay, F. Murray Abraham, James Costa, Javon Barnwell, Norman Reedus, Pak-Kwong Ho, Glenn Bang
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 4 votes)
Review: Three years ago a terrible epidemic was affecting the children of New York City; the lucky ones would end up in leg braces for the rest of their lives, the unlucky ones did not survive at all. The disease was carried by the city's cockroaches, so an entomologist, Dr Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino), was called in to supply a way to kill off the insects: she created a hybrid which managed to eliminate them forever and save the city's children for good. Not only that, but the official in charge of the operation, Dr Peter Mann (Peter Northam) became her husband, though now their cure has had unforseen consequences...

Mimic was Guillermo del Toro's first American film after the international success of his unusual Mexican vampire movie Cronos, and he was brought north to work with the Weinsteins, known for picking up promising filmmakers for what they hoped would be lucrative partnerships. Alas for del Toro, the Weinsteins were far more "hands on" than he had anticipated, and the resulting film not only flopped, but was disowned by him as not being faithful to his vision - for a start, the ending had been changed to a far happier one. So after all that you might expect this to be an orphaned movie, with nobody enthusiastic about it.

Yet the director's artistic cachet was far too great thanks to his following productions for Mimic to be ignored, and though it had not done much business originally (despite the reaction of those who did see it being generally favourable), it did find those who appreciated it wishing to welcome it into the del Toro canon, even if the man himself was not so keen. But seeing it now, you can understand why it was dismissed back in 1997 as merely another monster flick as there's a monotonous quality to the plotline and action, for that matter, with the characters getting into one potentially disgusting scenario after another.

Trouble is, the actual villains are somewhat far fetched, the descendants of the cockroach killers now running rampant in the subway and grown not only to human size, but able to, well, mimic human beings by looking a bit like a bloke in a raincoat, if you don't look too hard at them. Naturally they're people eaters, although quite what a predator that big is existing on these three years past is not adequately explained as someone would surely have noticed great swathes of the New York City population disappearing as they were picked off by their new neighbours. Yet the script endeavours to make the insects as scientifically believable as possible, which leaves the film seeming more like fifties sci-fi where every creature feature had to have its expert delineating the reasons behind the monsters.

That said, there are interesting bits and pieces to be salvaged, such as the theme of Susan not being able to get pregnant with her husband, with the queasy implication being that the giant bugs are her true offspring if only she would accept them. This goes precisely nowhere once the film resolves itself into yet another of those run away from the horrors chillers, and the more generic Mimic grows, the less entertaining it is, with scene after scene of the characters, who have ended up trapped in the abandoned areas of the subway, getting up close and personal with the insects who mean to have them for dinner. Though for all its sticky sound effects and shots of gloopiness, you're rarely moved one way or the other as it never presents itself as especially convincing. It was a nice idea to update vintage sci-fi and horror, but there were plenty having this idea in the nineties, and Mimic simply did not stand out. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Guillermo del Toro  (1964 - )

Stylish Mexican horror director who moves between personal projects and Hollywood blockbusters. After a couple of short films, he earned international attention with unusual vampire chiller Cronos. Mimic was an artistically disappointing follow up, but he enjoyed success with vampire action sequel Blade II, spooky ghost story The Devil's Backbone, and another horror comic adaptation, Hellboy. Spanish Civil War fantasy Pan's Labyrinth was widely seen as a triumph and won three Oscars. After a long spell in production hell since Hellboy II, he returned with giant monster mash Pacific Rim and gothic chiller Crimson Peak. The Shape of Water, an unconventional horror romance, garnered him Oscars and noir remake Nightmare Alley was similarly nominated.

 
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