Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Days of Halloween - Day 25 - Movie 1

Guillermo Del Toro found his first experience at directing a Hollywood movie to be less than it could have been. Mimic (1997) wound up being a compromise of his attempts to make a smart horror/science fiction film and the producer's desire for a cheap, quickie monster movie.

Recently Del Toro released something of a director's cut, taking shot footage and reediting the movie into something closer to his intentions. He points out that a true directors cut is impossible because many of the scenes that would be necessary for such a cut were never filmed.

A cockroach spread disease is killing off the children of New York City. Given the cockroach's resiliency and resistance to chemicals, a new approach is taken. A genetically created insect hybrid is released which wipes out the disease carrying roaches. The new insects, called Judas bugs are supposed to be sterile and to die off within six months. Three years later it is discovered that the Judas bug has not only been reproducing but has evolved into a huge insect which can fold its wings and limbs in a manner that it is able to take on the basic appearance of a cloaked human being. These giant insects are preying on humans now, and it is feared that they'll soon be moving out of New York City to establish colonies elsewhere. A hunt for their nest ensues.

Even in it's compromised form, Mimic succeeds in being an intelligent, well made, and well acted movie.  Many of Del Toro's trademark ingredients are here; insects, dark places, mechanisms, children. When I first saw the theatrical release of Mimic, it was Del Toro's second movie, and i thought it was rather good, but not great. Now that I've been able to experience many more films from him including the amazing Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and The Devil's Backbone (2001) it's easier to see the great movie that lies between the cracks of this pretty good movie. For what Mimic is, it's an enjoyable monster movie, elevated by the vision of a smart and gifted director from the disposable commodity that the producer's desired. It's just a shame that Del Toro wasn't left alone to do what he does best.


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