How do you feel about insects? More specifically, how do you feel about cockroaches? We have an innate repulsion toward these little critters. It developed naturally over thousands of years. And for a good reason too. The movie we’re going to talk about today takes advantage of that repulsion. Mimic is an atmospheric science fiction horror about giant humanoid cockroaches roaming the subway tunnels under New York. It’s coming to us from none other than Guillermo del Toro, director of such classics as Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. He expanded Donald A. Wollheim’s short story of the same name, creating a brooding creature feature.
Guillermo constantly clashed with the Weinstein brothers who wanted the movie to be more commercial. They wanted a straight-up horror movie without any of the elements that make up a classic del Toro horror movie. This is why I highly recommend you check out the Director’s Cut of this movie and not the theatrical Weinstein version. This is something Weinsteins did often without any regard for the director’s artistic vision. In fact, James Cameron almost hit Harvey Weinstein in the head with the Oscar he just won because of how he treated his friend Guillermo.
Moving on, the special effects along with the practical ones stood the test of time and Mimic looks great after more than 25 years. The setting couldn’t have been better as dark and damp tunnels create a highly claustrophobic environment. An environment that’s not suited to humans at all but perfectly suited for vicious bugs. After all, name a better duo than New York and cockroaches. Speaking of which, did you know that Mimic is ranked number two on our list of Best Movies About Cockroaches? To find out what movie is the winner, you’ll have to check out that list.
It’s been three years since entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler saved the world from the horrific Strickler’s disease. Targeting children and spreading via cockroaches, it caused so much pain and suffering. Susan manipulated the genes of cockroaches effectively forcing them to starve to death and stop the spread of the disease. However, after three years it appears that something emerged from the dark New York underground that’s not a new disease. It’s not a new disease but a new lifeform…
Apart from classic del Toro themes, there’s a strong Lovecraftian current underneath the story. Scientists messing with nature, experimenting, and doing something they shouldn’t be doing. Mimic also quickly arrives at the main location. In under ten minutes, we have our main protagonists and antagonists revealed. Moreover, the antagonists start eating people just two minutes later. You could argue that the movie draws a lot of inspiration from the Alien franchise. However, I think there are enough original elements not to think that although we do have Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3).
As in any del Toro movie, the cast did a terrific job, this time led by Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam. The two of them apparently could not stand each other on the set but at least that didn’t affect their performances. We also have Josh Brolin, F. Murray Abraham, and Norman Reedus. Mimic was actually Norman’s Hollywood debut. As this is basically a B movie but with an A execution, it’s only logical it’s got a couple of sequels. They’re watchable but inferior and forgettable when compared to the original. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Mimic I recommend another nineties horror science fiction classic The Species.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Donald A. Wollheim, Matthew Robbins, Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, F. Murray Abraham, Charles S. Dutton
Fun Facts: Mimic was originally supposed to be a thirty minute short before being developed into a feature movie just like Imposter four years later.