When I was fifteen years, twenty pounds and no kids ago; I worked at a summer camp as a cabin counselor in West Virginia. The camp was called Camp Tomahawk and was deep in the forest, probably an hour or two outside of Baltimore. The two weeks of orientation were always the best because it was campers free. The calm before the flood of urine filled sleeping bags and annoying campfire songs. Another thing I always remember were the giant bugs that would come out at night. They would congregate around this light that would illuminate the camp basketball court. So as I watched this floating mosh pit of exoskeletons eat each other. I couldn’t help but feel a little terrified of what I was seeing. Normally I’m ok with bugs but these were huge ass little monsters, ones I’ve never seen before. Normally, you would think of something so devilish coming from the Amazon or the Congo. But these were right in the rolling hills of West Virginia!
What is it about bugs that put us on edge? I think we all tend to tolerate and can even handle the typical Lady Bug or wonder at a Praying Mantis but what if there were giant insects and they what if their purpose was to kill us all? You may be familiar with silver age horror movies like Tarantula or Them! Common movies about giant insects causing havoc for us humans. They were a common practice used during the 50s, but later died out. Well, here is a more modern film that stems in the same style but one with a much darker and foreboding tone.
Mimic is a 1997 horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and stars Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Charles Dutton. It also features small appearances by The Walking Deads Norman Reedus in his Hollywood debut and Marvels Cinematic Universe’s very own Thanos Josh Brolin. The movie received mixed reviews but has garnered many sequels.
As a deadly virus is killing the children of New York City, an entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Sorvino) is asked to help stop and eradicate a swarm of cockroaches living in the sewers of the city. After using a genetically modified hybrid bug to kill off the virus carrying nest. Everything seems fine until this new creation of bug soon returns continue the task it was made for. But this time to a new species it designates the real threat.
Last years Horror Movie Marathon I chose a horror film called The Relic. A 1997 horror film about a terrifying monster that feasts upon humans in a national museum. His reign of terror comes to a crescendo during a museum exhibit. It’s an under appreciated movie which I believe deserves more credit. So why not do another film that is pretty much from the same mold!
Mimic and The Relic
It always surprises me at how similar both Mimic and The Relic are to each other. Both films have the basic monster movie tropes with a female lead that is the source of the monsters reveal and ultimate defeat. They’re also very dark films that have the same eerie atmospheres and terrifying tone. While The Relic is set in a museum, Mimic is set in an old abandoned subway underneath the streets of New York City. Mimic delivers a feeling of claustrophobia and fear of what is around the next corner. Add to this Del Toro’s ability to deliver tension successfully makes a film that never leaves you bored.
Between the two I’ve always appreciated The Relic much more. But Mimic is a movie I’ve been glad to re-visit over the years. While The Relic is a film that is for fans of brutish monsters with a simple story, Mimic is far more a better story that gives us a good man vs. nature and man vs. himself mix.
Engineers Of Our Own Doom
It’s a classic tale of the created turning on the creator. Something we’re extremely familiar with as a popular plot device in many monster movies. After Dr. Tyler makes this “super bug” she is worried of the repercussions that she unleashed on the city. Her suspicions prove correct as the bugs return three years later. They have rapidly evolved to human size and have developed the ability to mimic humans. Like the insects they were designed to kill, these giant bugs have set their sites on humans.
The movie presents us with the question if taking huge risks with biology and nature is actually the wisest choices. A question that makes sense for the time period. You might recall a movie called Jurassic Park? It raises the questions of cloning and bringing back species. Mimic is in the same vein where it questions mans ability to use nature against itself to further our existence. To play around with nature could have adverse effects on ourselves. In many ways Mimic is just like the film Terminator. Instead of manmade technology going against humans, it is a living creature that we created.
I can’t help but see a message in this film in regards to what our place and role in nature should be. While Dr. Tyler is fighting her super bug creation, we’re reminded that our only involvement with nature itself is to actually reproduce and have children of our own. We see this in the beginning of the film when she and her husband are trying for a child. Instead of trying to dominate nature with science which has adverse effects. Our best bet would be to just do what nature naturally allows us to do and that would be make kids! The entire beginning is about a virus that kills children. Instead of taking the route of perseverance and doing what is natural, they take the route of manipulation and disorder.
Moving On From The Ethical
Who cares about all that ethical stuff. The movie is a great deal of fun to watch. I like the acting and the style of common themes being shown seems rewarding. There is a great mix of practical and digital effects that don’t contrast each other like many late nineties films. The monster bugs are pretty sweet and aren’t overly used to make cheap jump scares. It’s done in the style of a slasher film where we only see its shape which keeps the mystery alive. The way it mimics a human face is pretty sweet and disturbing. It makes me wonder if anything in real nature could ever do something like this.
Del Toro does well at building good tension which at times seems better than the package. I like knowing someone shouldn’t be placing their hand down that dark hole. I like seeing the guy almost getting away and then biting the big one. It is in general a good horror flick that I’m proud to include in my Horror Movie Marathon.