The Mimic Series
Now that I have a Blu-ray player, I finally rounded out my Guillermo del Toro collection by picking up Mimic. (I’d been waiting to get the Blu-ray-only director’s cut, since it was the only version that had a commentary track, and really, the commentary tracks are at least half the reason you buy a GdT movie, especially Mimic.) And since my timing was good, I actually picked up the version that also contains both sequels for just a couple of dollars more. I’d never seen either of those, or the director’s cut, before, so it was an adventure!
Even though I had re-watched the original theatrical cut of Mimic just a few years ago, I still couldn’t tell you which scenes were added and which cut in the director’s cut version without listening to the commentary track, though I was instantly left with the impression that it’s a better movie than it was before. It’s still not del Toro’s best, but it’s not his worst, either. (That plum goes to Blade 2.)
While Mimic is del Toro’s most direct horror film, it also presages a lot of stuff that he’ll do later in his career. Not only his already-established fascination with bugs, but also a lot of elements that crop up in Blade 2 and especially in The Strain, which could loosely be described as “Mimic with vampires.”
As with all of Guillermo del Toro’s movies, the commentary track for this one is worth the price of admission, and is maybe better than the movie itself. It sheds a lot of light into what changed on the director’s cut (basically, all the second unit stuff is gone now, leaving a movie largely without jump scares or typical action beats) as well as the behind-the-scenes stuff of how we ended up with the movie we got, and how that changed from del Toro’s original vision. Of maybe the most interest to me was the revelations of people (credited and otherwise) who had worked on the film. While last time I was surprised to see Josh Brolin in the cast, this time it was the revelation that Robert Rodriguez and Ole Bornedal (director of Nightwatch, no the other Nightwatch) were among the second unit directors, and that the screenplay got uncredited drafts by the likes of John Sayles and even Steven Soderbergh, though virtually no remnants of their versions remain in the finished product.
Mimic 2 (2001)
Homicide: Bugs on the Street is about what you’d expect from a direct-to-video sequel to Mimic helmed by a prolific TV veteran. Fewer monsters, smaller budget. Pretty predictable, but certainly could be worse. It follows a minor character from the first movie (Remi, played by Alix Koromzay), an entomologist who’s somewhat inexplicably teaching at a mostly condemned elementary school this time out, and who is the focus of attention for a lone surviving soldier of the Judas Breed, with at least one unexplained new trick up is sleeve. The bug suit isn’t too bad, but the CG is strictly Syfy Channel level.
Mimic 3: Sentinel (2003)
Rear Mimic wisely abandons the previous sequel’s direct connection to the first movie, in favor of a remake of Rear Window with giant cockroaches. The focus this time out is on a homebound adult survivor of Strickler’s Disease. It’s actually a pretty clever idea settled into a pretty good movie, from director J.T. Petty, who would go on to make The Burrowers, which was also quite good. Again, the effects of the bugs aren’t great here, and things go off the rails a bit in the last reel, but for the most part it’s a remarkably thoughtful, atmospheric movie, especially for the second direct-to-video sequel to a movie that wasn’t exactly a crown jewel of cinema to begin with.
One of my favorite bits in Mimic 3 is that not only does everyone involved totally know about the Judas Breed, but they’re even in textbooks, which was a great touch.
There’s a commentary track for this one too, and it might be worth listening to, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.