I’ve always found del Toro’s Mimic to be a pretty decent, if disposable, film. But now, with a few extra minutes in his director’s cut, I find Mimic to be a pretty decent, if disposable, film that’s a little bit longer.
As Dr. Susan Tyler, Mira Sorvino (remember her?) battles giant cockroaches in the subway system below New York. Once heralded as a genius for ridding the city of diseased roaches, she finds herself in a heap o’ trouble as the genetically engineered roach she helped create to do away with the others started breeding itself. Hence, big, mean bugs that kill humans.
A couple of kids check into the bugs’ underground lair, but they don’t check out. Neither do a couple of other recognizable cast members whom I won’t name, so it’s not spoiled and all. For the final act, Dr. T and company are trapped in an abandoned train car as the winged bastards swarm around them.
While there’s atmosphere to burn, Mimic is missing a few things that would make it better, like scares. The creature effects are nice and gory, but certainly not scary, as del Toro insists. The changes he has added back are minimal, to my memory, except for the ending. He finds his original vision frightening; I find it silly. The shot is similar in theme to that of Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake from 1978, but with none of the power.
It sounds like I’m being overly harsh, but in the battle of art vs. commerce, sometimes — not often, but sometimes — the studio suits know when leaner is meaner.
With no Sorvino in sight, 2001’s belated sequel, Mimic 2, revisits the mutant bug strain, but with only one of its characters — and a minor one at that: Remi (Alix Koromzay, a dead ringer for Amanda Plummer). She’s a socially inept schoolteacher who feels more at home talking to her insect collection than humans. Various loser men in her life start turning up dead, so toothpick-chewing Det. Klaski (Bruno Campos, TV’s Nip/Tuck) comes to investigate.
Before you know it, Remi’s being pursued by a big bug that wants to mate. For much of director Jean de Segonzac’s film, the critter has her trapped inside the school with a couple of students, having turned the grounds into a nest. By the end, it comes to visit her apartment.
Scientifically senseless, but a real player at 82 minutes, Mimic 2 delivers some good bug-kills-man action even on its tight budget, not to mention lots of insect goo, which looks suspiciously like vanilla pudding. It’s really not half-bad.
From 2003, Mimic 3: Sentinel cries for the franchise to be smashed under a heel. You really can’t squeeze three decent features out of Donald A. Wollheim’s eight-page short story that served as the series’ source material. This is proof.
Planting the cockroaches-disguised-as-humans concept into a framework ripped off from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Mimic 3 centers on arty photographer Marvin (Karl Geary, Stag Night), confined to his sterile apartment because of severe asthma. This malady makes it easy for the budget, but bad for viewers.
Through his camera lens, the shutterbug (pun intended) witnesses the Judas Breed cockroaches murdering someone. And then someone else. And then they come for him. Yet the only thing approaching creepy in director J.T. Petty’s lacking entry is the appearance of Amanda Plummer. —Rod Lott