Director – Guillermo del Toro
Cast – Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Alexander Goodwin, Giancarlo Gianinni, Charles S. Dutton, Josh Brolin, Alix Koromzay, F. Murray Abraham
Release Year – 1997
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I remember loving this flick so darn much when I was a kid, and had to give this one a shot again when I realized this was directed by none other than the great Mexican-born horror director Guillermo del Toro. This is one of the few films that Guillermo has denounced and wished that he had never made, thanks much in part to heavy producer infringement at the hands of the fat Bob Weinstein. The producer has been a fan of mine thanks to him penning the underrated 80s slasher “The Burning”, but that is not nearly enough to allow me to forgive him for the unreasonable changes he had made to this film. I’m siding with Guillermo on this one. Nonetheless, Mr. del Toro did the very best he could and managed to give us one of the cooler horror films from the 90s, and showed how great direction can cover up many other less than favorable producer-induced elements.
“Mimic” stars Mira Sorvino as entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler, who three years prior rose to scientific fame when she genetically engineered a new breed of insect in order to kill off cockroaches that were carrying a disease that attacked the nervous system of many children. Fast forward to present time and that decision is coming back to haunt her. The insects she released have learned to adapt, something not fully expected given the insects were to have a lifespan of 180 days at the most. However this being a new species, many mutations can occur, and oh boy did mutations occur! The insects have learned to mimic their one true predator…mankind. Using the subway system as their breeding/hunting ground, the colony has reached its full potential and it is up to Dr. Tyler and her peers to find a way to stop the insects and put an end to the destruction she herself has caused. One problem however arises in the face of our antagonists, by the time they realize what is going on, they are at the heart of the insect colony. Stuck in a dark and murky underworld they have not adapted to, our protagonists are now at the hands of the very creature they created to protect them.
If you know me, then you know I have a big love and appreciation for anything having to do with creatures/animals, and science. Knowing that, you can see why I absolutely enjoyed watching this film. The fact that this flick uses insects as it’s antagonists interests me so much because whenever we get any type of creature/animal related horror, it is usually something a lot bigger than an insect. Quite odd isn’t it? Of all the animals there are, probably the scariest overall domain in the animal kingdom belongs to the insects, yet we never see them often enough in horror. Well if you know director Guillermo del Toro, then you know he as well has a huge fascination for insects, which makes him the perfect person to direct this flick. The science element thrown in was very interesting as well, and I really love that it touched base with the genetics side of science, focusing on adaptation and mutation over numerous generations. The fact that these insects had a very short lifespan seemed to backfire on our characters, and I loved that. Instead of them just dying off quickly they instead were able to go through numerous generations in a fairy short period of time(3 years is a VERY short amount of time in biological standards), eventually turning them into the bloodthirsty killers they were. I thank this film’s writers for staying mostly true to biology standards and not straying into something overly ridiculous. It seems they did their homework.
Now because under “Director” this film says “Guillermo del Toro”, you can assume this film has awesome direction, and…it does. His use of dark sets and grainy cinematography really set the mood for this film and provide the perfect atmosphere for what this film sets to do. The tension was real, and gave me some real heart-racing chills that I rarely get to experience these days. This is due to del Toro’s awesome timing and pacing during these scenes, along with his camera angles and use of shadows. The guy really knows what he is doing, and it shows with this flick. I also really enjoyed that he did not go for a complete CGI experience regarding the insects, and gave us as much live-action creature scenes as he could. Some of the scenes just could not be done live action, and I forgive him for using CGI when needed. He did make the creatures look utterly amazing, especially when we first see just how they were able to blend in with society so well. Creepy stuff man. He also does not stray away from the gore either, which adds to the horror and shows that this guy will not budge from his roots even for a Hollywood film. It is really unfortunate that this film does have some cheezy and very Hollywood-feeling moments, and you can thank the heavy Hollywood presence on the set(damn you Bob Weinstein!) for them. He even changed the awesome original ending for this film’s current “happy” ending, another example that Hollywood should just let their director work, and be more picky about choosing their director if they don’t like his/her work. I personally think this film’s studio and producers should be bowing to Guillermo, because without him it is quite obvious that this film would have gone from great to utter sh*t. The fact that this film can have these cliché and overdone Hollywood elements yet still come out a great watch goes to show that a great director can ALWAYS make the best out of a crappy situation. Thank you Guillermo for never giving up.
Overall, this is a great film that I recommend to all fans of the horror genre, and ESPECIALLY to those who think like me and love films with a high creature/biology influence. This is one very underappreciated film that gives us the goods along with great overall writing and amazing direction. Watch this by yourself in the dark on a rainy night. C’mon, I dare you.