Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Movie #418: Mimic

Mimic is a horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Charles S. Dutton, Giancarlo Giannini, Josh Brolin, Alix Koromzay, F. Murray Abraham, and Alexander Goodwin. It has the distinction of being a pretty decent Chill movie, actually.

So: A terrible disease is killing off the children of Manhattan. A CDC doctor named Peter (Northam) recruits Susan (Sorvino), an entymologist, to help him create a "Judas breed" of insects to kill off the disease's vector: the common cockroach. Fast forward three years, and the bugs have evolved into man-sized monsters that have flaps of skin mimicking a human face.

The bulk of the movie is Susan and Peter realizing what's happening, and then investigating the sewers and subways lines where the bugs have taken up residence with the help of Leonard, a cop they recruit (Dutton); Manny, a shoe-shiner (Giannini) who is looking for his son Chuy (Goodwin); and Josh (Brolin), Peter's doomed assistant.

Plot-wise, this is pretty standard horror - characters create monster, characters realize monster exist and must investigate and go destroy it. I like it on its face because it hits the beats of a Chill game so perfectly (investigation, research, confrontation, blood), but even apart from the fact that I'm a big nerd, there's a lot going for it. A lot of times, when the central conceit of where the monster came from is "humans made it," it was made for money or pure scientific curiosity. Here, they made the creature because there was a terrible disease killing children and they wanted to stop it spreading, and killing cockroaches is nearly impossible. This is actually called out in the film when Susan talks her mentor (Abraham) about it, and he points out that he has grandchildren who might not be there if not for the Judas breed.

Also, del Toro, as usual, doesn't grant plot immunity the way other directors would and isn't afraid to kill off kids, which then leads the audience to wonder if Chuy is for it. To that point, Chuy is a decent portrayal of a kid with autism, given the time period. The bug effects are also pretty good - the scene where Susan gets carried off was really effective.

Probably my favorite character is Leonard, though; he's tough and salty, but he's also knowledgeable about the subway and the city's history and he doesn't take any shit from Peter. And his last stand is sad and pretty badass. Sadly, de Toro has disowned this film, but I think it's pretty solid.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch Value: Medium-high

Next up: Miracle on 34th Street