Tuesday, October 19, 2021

#2,642. Mimic (1997)


Director Guillermo Del Toro’s visual proficiency and love of monsters gets a full work-out in his 1997 sci-fi / horror film Mimic (which he co-wrote with Matthew Robbins).

A plague, carried by cockroaches, is wiping out the children of New York City. In an effort to extinguish the bugs (and thus end the disease), Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) and Dr. Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) “create” a genetically enhanced insect species - a “superbug” if you will - which, because it is sterile, will die out itself within six months of destroying the infected cockroaches.

Their plan proves successful, and while some, including Susan’s colleague Dr. Gates (F. Murray Abraham), criticize their methods, New York hails Drs. Tyler and Mann as heroes.

Three years later, Peter and Susan - now happily married to one another - find themselves facing an entirely new problem: an undocumented species of giant insect is terrorizing both the city’s subway and sewer systems, and upon closer examination, Susan is horrified to discover that this new man-eating insect is actually a mutation of the superbug she herself engineered!

With the help of angry policeman Leonard Norton (Charles S. Dutton), a shoe-shiner named Manny (Giancarlo Gianni) and Manny’s autistic son (Alexander Goodwin), Peter and Susan search for answers, only to discover their superbug has mutated in ways they never thought possible.

The creatures themselves are definitely one of the film’s strong points; they walk upright, are as big as full-grown humans, and can even fly (which they do several times in the movie’s final act, resulting in some gnarly kills). In fact, these bugs have evolved to the point that, from a distance, they actually look human (Susan herself, caught off-guard, is attacked by one in the subway).

In addition, the underground set pieces that Del Toro and team created for Mimic work wonders, conjuring up a creepy atmosphere; at one point, Peter, Leonard, and Peter’s assistant Josh (played by Josh Brolin) find themselves in a long-abandoned underground station, complete with a decaying subway car (which proves useful once the bugs track them down).

Featuring a fair number of suspenseful sequences and even some nasty gore, Mimic is a superior creature feature, made by a director who, in the years to follow, would become a master of that particular subgenre.
Rating: 8 out of 10

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