Mimic (1997) — Not for bugaphobes

“They mimic us. We mimic them.”

Justin’s rating: I’m not touching you! But am I bugging you?

Justin’s review: Before you say anything, yes, Mimic has an uphill battle to gaining your respect. I know that. It’s a bizarre creature feature that has to perform every yoga stance ever to get this plot to work — and on top of that, get the audience to buy Mira Sorvino as a super-smart scientist. Sorvino is great in a lot of roles, especially comedy, but… yeah, I don’t totally buy her in this role, even as I like her character.

Still, I have long held a torch this early Guillermo del Toro project. It takes a dumb premise and carries it all the way to the end credits without a restraining defensive tackle from the studio bringing it down. Del Toro’s talents make this an arresting watch, even if what you’re watching is a movie that — let’s face it — is about Big Bugs.

To cure a nasty cockroach-borne disease called Strickler’s Disease, bug doc Susan Tyler (Sorvino) whipped up a special “Judas Breed” to kill all of the roaches in NYC. Unfortunately, the Judas Breed take their wonky DNA and start evolving to become giant critters that start mimicking human beings and occasionally eating them.

That’s… that’s it. That’s the movie. The rest is a whole lot of investigation and running around in subway tunnels and smearing bug goo all over highly paid actors.

It’s not hard to understand why this idea would get flagged for a horror flick. A whole lot of people have a strongly negative reaction to insects, so it’s a good field to explore, especially with the then-newly popular tool of CGI. Huge bugs weren’t easy to do before the ’90s, but Mimic gladly grabbed on to computer graphics to give us the heebie-jeebies. And don’t worry — there are plenty of practical effects here too, because del Toro loves all that sort of thing. A whole lot of thought was given to the insects of this film, giving these abominations a relatable feel even as they don’t make sense in the least.

Mimic did fairly well for itself, too, spawning two direct-to-video sequels and becoming an underrated creature feature from the 1990s. It became a good breakout hit for del Toro, giving him leverage to go on to bigger (and weirder) things. It’s a movie that can be beautiful and well-paced at times, but you’re just going to remember it for your nightmares coming to life. If your nightmares are about roaches the size of a person, that is.

Didja notice?

  • Never thought cockroaches would get such weighty music
  • They’re getting water ALL OVER THE FLOOR
  • Some guy’s getting eaten by a bug? Kid things it’s a good time to learn how to copy all those clickity-clacks.
  • Bug hunting is a good way for kids to earn some extra cash

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