Reviews

Fairy Tales, Giant Insects, Underground Worlds & Unrestrained Science: 'Mimic 3 Film Set'

Because of their grim human shape and scavenging way of life, these insects are reminiscent of the neglected underground dwellers that have been documented to exist under the grand metropolis.


Mimic, Mimic 2, Mimic 3: Sentinel.

Director: Guillermo del Toro, Jean de Segonzac, J.T. Petty.
Cast: Mira Sorvino, Alix Koromzay, Karl Geary.
Distributor: Lionsgate
Rated: Unrated, R, R.
Release date: 2012-05-01

With only three films under the franchise name, the Mimic series was relatively short lived. Arguably, the failure of these movies as a continuous saga is due to Dimension Films self-imposed law of exponential quality decay. Indeed, this production company appears to be obsessed with the generation of low quality sequels to successful horror films, but progressively slashing the budget and artistic vision of the original, until nothing substantial is left to watch. Other beloved horror series driven to hell by Dimension include Halloween, Hellraiser, and From Dusk Till Dawn.

The overall failure of the series is quite unfortunate, as Mimic is a very decent horror flick that cleverly combines fairy tales, giant insects, underground worlds, and unrestrained science. As the film begins, New York City is being ravaged by a deadly plague that affects most children. When it is discovered that cockroaches are the carriers of the disease, it is decided to fight fire with fire. And so Dr Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) releases a genetically mutated insect designed to eradicate all the roaches of the city. As a safety precaution to avoid a new plague, the so called Judas Breed is designed to die within a few days of its release.

However, as we have learned from countless horror flicks, man-made monsters always find a way to survive, and in the process they turn against their creators with scorching fury. In the case of Mimic, the Judas Breed mutates into man-size insects that can roughly mimic the human form. In dim subway stations and dark alleys, these monsters look like gloomy men wearing long trench coats. As these creatures live in the sewers and abandoned metro stations of the Golden Apple, it's impossible to ignore the geopolitical ideology of Mimic. Indeed, because of their grim human shape and scavenging way of life, these insects are reminiscent of the neglected underground dwellers that have been documented to exist under the grand metropolis.

As such, the monsters of Mimic are embodiments of social repression manifested by the cultural guilt of having dispossessed people living under one of the richest cities in the world. Thus, at the allegorical level, Dr. Tyler and the other victims that struggle to survive the attacks of the Judas Breed are ideological scapegoats. Indeed, the havoc wreaked by the giant insects can be interpreted as a punishment for the transgressions of modern society towards the underprivileged.

The existence of such a strong ideological undercurrent that confronts complex moral oppositions should not be a complete surprise. After all, Mimic is nothing but a re-imagined fairy tale taking place in our modern world. Such a structure is not an accident, as director Guillermo del Toro appears to be enchanted with fairies and other underworld beings. Similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and the Hellboy flicks, Mimic features malicious creepy-crawly creatures that live a stealthy existence under our cities.

Even though Mimic was his first big budget film, del Toro was able to create a fantastic horror flick with plenty of scares, exciting action sequences, outstanding cinematography by Dan Lausten, an exciting score by Marco Beltrami, and top-notch acting by Mira Sorvino and Giancarlo Giannini. The same accolades cannot be repeated about the sequel, Mimic 2, which follows the antics of Remi Panos (Alix Koromzay), one of the tangential characters featured in the first flick. But then again, it is impossible to blame the director and other members of the cast and crew for this abysmal failure. Indeed, the budget for Mimic 2 appears to be a small fraction of what was invested in the original. Needless to say, Mimic 2 was released as a straight to video product.

Consequently, the giant insect hive and dark underground passages highlighted in Mimic are nowhere to be found in the sequel. Instead, Mimic 2 offers a single monster stalking Remi and two of her students trapped in the confines of an elementary school after dark. Quite unbelievable, even for horror film standards, the lonely creature decides to mate with Remi. Needless to say, in order to achieve such a modest goal the monster has to dispatch all males that seem to be a threat to its phallic superiority.

The final entry of the series, Mimic 3: Sentinel, appears to have been made with a budget of a few bucks and some loose change. Even so, the filmmakers proved to be creative with their limited resources. As a matter of fact, Mimic 3: Sentinel can be best described as a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Rear Window, but with giant insects. But then again, director J.T. Petty is not Hitchcock, and actor Karl Geary is not James Stewart. As a consequence, the final product is an enjoyable, but deeply flawed movie.

For those attracted to giant monster flicks (who doesn’t?), Miramax and Lionsgate home entertainment have released the three Mimic films packaged together in Blu-ray format. In spite of their age, all three films look and sound great in the high-def format. This Blu-ray set offers a wide variety of extras that will be of considerable interest to horror fans. The first disc offers the director’s cut of Mimic, which is not radically different from the original version.

In addition, there is a very good director’s commentary with Guillermo del Toro which reflects on the many aesthetic, technical, and political challenges of making this film. A few extra documentaries and deleted scenes nicely round up a truly outstanding Blu-ray presentation of Mimic. On the other hand, the disc that contains both sequels merely offers audio commentaries and the respective trailers.

Overall, in terms of bonus features and audiovisual quality, the Mimic Blu-ray set is top notch. However, its artistic worth exclusively hangs on the attributes of the first film in the series. Indeed, Mimic should be considered as a minor classic of fantastic cinema and by all means it should be required viewing for all horror film fans. On the other hand, both sequels will only appeal to those seasoned fear film freaks that need to see it all.

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