31 Days of Nightmares 2017 -- Mimic

31 Days of Nightmares 2017 — Mimic

Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and directed this 90s monster movie starring Mira Sorvino. Of course, del Toro has gone on to become a modern monster master, so it’s interesting to go back and see some of his earlier work.

Mimic [source: HBO streaming] is about a strain of insects genetically engineered to kill off New York City’s subterranean cockroach population, because the roaches carry a virus that is literally killing off an entire generation of children. Despite their efforts to ensure “the Judas breed” is sterile, three years later a series of murders and the appearance of some living members of the breed alert them that all didn’t go as planned.

Two notes here: if you have an HBO Go account around because of Game of Thrones or something, definitely check out their horror offerings. You’ll find some good stuff, including older movies like Mimic that you won’t find on Netflix. It’s also worth mentioning that del Toro has never really liked how this movie turned out. There’s a director’s cut, but I don’t believe the version on HBO is his cut. I’ll have to track it down, because I really would love to see what he did with it.

This could have been a pretty bland scary bug monster movie. There’s a lot of crawling around in sewers and gross gooey bug guts. What sets it apart is that the bugs have an accelerated rate of mutation, and in just three years have evolved “soldiers” that mimic their primary predators, humans. With their wings folded down and their forelegs folded over their heads, they have an eerily humanoid appearance, down their their roughly man-like but horrifyingly featureless “faces.”

The creepiest scenes are definitely the ones where these things stand around among humans, on the street, just looking like weird guys in long coats. There’s a very uncomfortable feeling trying to imagine what they’re thinking. Are they just mindless animals? The weird human shape suggests some kind of sentience. But what could a thing be thinking about? What motivates it if not instinct and hunger?

Ultimately, not enough was done with this idea, so most of the movie is people running around getting chased and eaten by giant bugs. Which is fine, but it’s really the mimicry idea that elevates this movie, and it could have been even better.