THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
ďMimicís opening sequence is perhaps the most horrific moment ever captured on film.Ē
Guillermo Del Toro has become a bit of a Hollywood juggernaut. Sure, heís not on the JJ Abrams scale (yet), but heís getting there. No matter what he attaches his name to it gets a dose of instant cred. Of course, that cred will be put to the test next summer when Pacific Rim (his big budget monster versus robots movie) hits. If it tanks itíll end a remarkable run that includes both critically acclaimed flicks and nerd approved material. With all that said, I think folks have forgotten about his first Hollywood entry Ė 1997ís Mimic. Iím here to remedy that.
In case you missed it, Mimic is about entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino), who creates a superbug that will finally stop manís greatest enemy, the cockroach, by doing some fancy pants stuff with their DNA. At first, things work just dandy, but if you f with Mother Nature, well, sheíll bitch slap you and send the biggest roach ever seen to destroy the world.
I should give a disclosure here. I hate cockroaches. Actually, I fear them. If I have to create a list of mortal enemies that would frighten me, they would perhaps be number one. That or cats. If I were Indiana Jones, it wouldnít be snakes that keep interfering with my archeology fun, no. Itíd be lots and lots of the same bug Ė Satanís version of the ladybug. If youíve dealt with roaches before, they are the most disgusting things ever put on this planet. In fact, Mimicís opening sequence is perhaps the most horrific moment ever captured on film where Sorvinoís experiment in the sewer attracts millions of roaches. Itís nasty, which is a lame definition, but simple and true.
Besides the fact that Mimic kills a lot of roaches, the film works on a couple of different levels besides preaching a cause. 1) Its science horror, which is hard to screw up because the characters can say about anything and unless youíre a registered scientist (or at least hold a vo-tech certificate), it sounds legit. 2) Its a bug movie, which is hard to screw up because if youíre like me, bugs, especially roaches, are naturally horrific. Demons and ghosts are scary too, but Iíve never seen one of those up close. And the roaches arenít solo terrors, no. Theyíre bitches who always have a flock of friends. 3) Its a monster movie, which is hard to screw up because monsters are inheritably terror inducing. Sure, some of the CGI isnít perfect, but Del Toro smartly sets the thing in the darkness of the sewers to hide all the flaws. The villain here, known as Long John, are man-roaches who roam the darkness sporting black coats to fit into the world. However, no one mentions if they stink or not. I assume they do.
Besides that all, itís always a ballsy movie when you kill off a couple of kids via sewer monster. Maybe some jerky teens, but kids? Thatís a quick way to make the bad truly evil.
Mimic isnít short on star power. Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Giancarlo Giannini, Charles S. Dutton. Thatís a pretty decent cast for a monster movie. Itís odd seeing a semi-young Brolin, who for some reason has always looked mid-30ish (even in Goonies). Dutton Iíve always had respect for, but this is the forgotten Sorvinoís film, who had a great run there for a while. She does an ok job here, and by the end of the film I think Del Toro wanted to make her into Ripley, even though she couldnít pull off the tough element. Her character ultimately ends up flat, without anything to make her character memorable. Oh, and itís kinda fun seeing a young Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), who has a throwaway role. Though now I always think of him as a redneck with a chopper. It's a good look.
Mimic isnít perfect as moments seem to drag in points, and Del Toro attempts to create some depth to the characters that donít work, but overall, itís effectively tense as the creatures slowly pick off folks one by one in the underground. Supposedly, Del Toro disowned this version of the film after constant studio interference, so Iíd like to see the directorís cut some time. But for now, this is the version I remember, and it still holds up.