Mimic is Guillermo del Toro’s 1997 creature feature. One that I happen to think doesn’t get nearly enough love these days. It follows the story of Dr. Peter Mann and Dr. Susan Tyler, who work together to come up with a solution for cockroaches carrying an illness that targets children. Susan changes the DNA of an insect that will go after cockroaches, killing them, and then dying before able to breed and propagate the species. Which always works out well in horror movies…
Susan slowly starts to discover that her safety precautions of the insects not being able to breed might not have worked, and she, Peter, and several others end up in New York’s subways trying to discover what is happening. Inevitably they discover the insects, get trapped, and realize they must fight back or risk the insects taking over.
Mimic falls in line with a lot of other horror movies from that period, that I love. While they are, in fact, horror they also bring more of the action/adventure to them, separating them from a lot of other movies that we got then and even now. This one has less action than say The Relic or Jurassic Park, but it has a similar feel to those movies. There are a lot of moments that feel more fast-paced and “action movie” like, while still retaining suspense and tense moments that connect more with horror. It feels very of the times for creatures features that came out then, and I love them. They can be less intense than some horror fans like, although Mimic is pretty brutal and outdoes a lot of similar horror movies in many ways, but I personally loved them for their ability to bring horror but still feel fun.
The plot is decent, although it moves a little quickly from questions about the insects’ existence to discovery. Once over that, however, the pacing is solid, and while it could have been drawn out, it is not the worst thing to rush through that to get to the meat of the story. The characters are well developed and compelling, although they sometimes fall into familiar tropes. Not enough to really hurt the experience, just enough that you should expect to see some characters that feel a bit familiar.
Susan is especially interesting to me because she struggles throughout the movie with what she’s done. What she created ends up being horrifying and something she never expected. However, the illness was also horrifying, and the consequences of that wouldn’t have been much better. She goes from being lauded as a hero by the city at large to being treated with disgust by most of those who find out the end result of what she did. I wouldn’t have minded that aspect being explored more, but the movie is more heavily focused on the horror so I can understand why it was not.
The darkness and confusion of the deep subway system are used well, which gives the movie a good look and feel. If I had to pinpoint a problem it would be the insects. I hate to say it because del Toro is well known for having the best creature designers work with him. The design and concept of the insects are actually spot on. However, the actual execution has not aged perfectly. When I rewatch this movie, I find myself torn between what I can tell was pretty awesome for the times, but also feeling like maybe leaning more practical would have helped them age better. Still, it is nothing so horrible as to ruin the experience.
Bottom line, I love Mimic. It is not perfect, and there are other issues surrounding it that give me pause. However, setting that aside and judging it for what it is, it is a damn entertaining, scary at times 90s creature features. I sing the praises of movies like it because I always enjoy myself when I watch them. I loved them then and enjoy the few now that compare, and hope that we get more. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. If you have, revisit it.