Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Guillermo del Toro|
by Donald A. Wollheim
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Edited by||Patrick Lussier|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Box office||$25.5 million|
Mimic is a 1997 American science fiction horror film co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro based on Donald A. Wollheim's short story of the same name, and starring Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Charles S. Dutton, Giancarlo Giannini and F. Murray Abraham. The film features Norman Reedus in his Hollywood debut.
In Manhattan, cockroaches are spreading the deadly "Strickler's disease" that is claiming hundreds of the city's children. Dr. Peter Mann, Deputy Director of the CDC, recruits entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler, who uses genetic engineering to create what she calls the Judas breed, a large insect that releases an enzyme which accelerates the roaches' metabolism and causes them to starve to death faster than they can take in nourishment. The disease is successfully eradicated, and Peter and Susan later marry.
Three years later, a priest is chased and dragged underground by a strange assailant. The only witness is Chuy, the autistic ward of an immigrant subway shoe shiner named Manny. Two kids later sell a "weird bug" from the subway to Susan, which she performs tests on, and realizes is similar to the Judas breed. At first, she believes that this is impossible, since the specimens she released were all-female and designed with a lifespan of only a few months, ensuring that the breed would die off after a single generation. She consults with her mentor, Dr. Gates, who autopsies a larger specimen found in the city's sewage treatment plants, and finds that its organs are fully formed, meaning the Judas breed is not only alive, but has developed into a viable species, with a sizable colony underneath the city.
Looking for more valuable specimens, the kids go down the tracks where they find a large egg sac and are then killed by the same strange assailant. Chuy also enters the church to find "Mr. Funny Shoes" and is abducted. Peter, his assistant Josh (Brolin) and MTA officer Leonard enter the maintenance tunnels to investigate but Peter and Leonard get separated from Josh, who is then killed trying to find his way back up. Susan encounters what appears to be a shadowy man in a trench coat on a train platform. As she approaches, it unfolds into an insect the size of a human being which has adapted to appear human. The creature abducts Susan and carries her into the tunnels. Manny also enters the tunnels in search of Chuy and comes across Susan, whom he rescues along with Peter and Leonard, and they barricade themselves inside a train car.
Susan surmises that the Judas breed's accelerated metabolism has allowed them to reproduce at a similarly accelerated rate, and have managed to evolve over tens of thousands of generations within only three years, including developing the ability to mimic their human prey. The group formulates a plan to get the car moving: Peter will switch the power on, and Manny will switch the tracks. Susan projects that the Judas will spread throughout the tunnels and overrun the city unless they are able to kill the colony's single fertile male. Manny finds Chuy but is killed by the male Judas, so Susan goes in search of him but finds only Chuy. Leonard's injured leg starts bleeding heavily, so he creates a diversion that allows the others to get away, before being killed. Peter finds a dumbwaiter and puts Susan and Chuy in it, but stays behind to destroy the breed for good. He is chased into a room where hundreds are nesting, and blows them all up by setting fire to a loose gas pipe, before diving underwater to safety.
The male Judas escapes the blast and goes after Chuy but is distracted by Susan, who lures it into the path of an oncoming train, where it is killed. The two successfully make it to the surface where they are reunited with Peter, whom Susan had assumed died in the blast.
- Mira Sorvino as Dr. Susan Tyler
- Jeremy Northam as Dr. Peter Mann
- Josh Brolin as Josh Maslow
- Charles S. Dutton as Officer Leonard Norton
- Giancarlo Giannini as Manny Gavoila
- F. Murray Abraham as Dr. Gates
- Norman Reedus as Jeremy
- Julian Richings as Workman
- Doug Jones as Long John #2
- Alexander Goodwin as Chuy Gavoila
- Alix Koromzay as Remy Panos
- James Costa as Ricky
- Javon Barnwell as Davis
The character of Manny was originally written by del Toro for one of his favorite actors, Argentinian Federico Luppi, whom he directed in Cronos. However, Luppi's English pronunciation was not good enough for the film, so del Toro chose Giancarlo Giannini instead; in a 2013 interview del Toro confirmed the story and stated that what he misses the most about working in the Spanish language is the possibility of directing Luppi, for whom del Toro professes the utmost admiration.
Two of the film's actors, Josh Brolin and Alix Koromzay, had previously starred in Nightwatch, another Dimension/Miramax horror film from 1997. Its director, Ole Bornedal, served as a producer on Mimic.
Principal photography occurred in Toronto, Canada, due to the city's similarities to New York. The film includes several examples of del Toro's most characteristic hallmarks. "I have a sort of a fetish for insects, clockwork, monsters, dark places, and unborn things," said del Toro, and this is evident in Mimic, where at times all are combined in long, brooding shots of dark, cluttered, muddy chaotic spaces. According to Alfonso Cuarón, del Toro's friend and colleague, "with Guillermo the shots are almost mathematical — everything is planned."
After Miramax boss Bob Weinstein saw early footage, there were fights between him and del Toro regarding the tone, with Weinstein claiming the film was not scary enough. It has been reported that one day Weinstein was so infuriated with del Toro that he stormed onto the Toronto set and attempted to instruct del Toro on "how to direct a movie." Weinstein would eventually try to get del Toro fired. Following an intervention from lead actress Mira Sorvino, Weinstein backed down, and principal photography would be completed with del Toro as director in early 1997. However, Weinstein still insisted on having control over the final cut. Producer B.J. Rack later compared making the film to "being a prisoner of [a] war camp", while del Toro stated in 2018 "The only time I have experienced bad behaviour, and It remains one of the worst experiences of my life, was in 1997, when I did Mimic for Miramax. It was a horrible, horrible, horrible experience."
Release and reception
Mimic received mixed to positive reviews from critics. It currently holds a 61% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3 1/2 stars saying "Del Toro is a director with a genuine visual sense, with a way of drawing us into his story and evoking the mood with the very look and texture of his shots. He takes the standard ingredients and presents them so effectively that "Mimic" makes the old seem new, fresh and scary."
Due to not being granted final cut privilege, del Toro did not approve of the film as released. In 2010, del Toro revealed that he had been working on a director's cut of Mimic and said "It’s not exactly the movie I wanted to do, but it definitely healed a lot of wounds... I am happy with the cut." The director's cut runs for 112 minutes, six minutes longer than the theatrical release. It was released in 2011, initially exclusive to Blu-ray and is now available via various digital services, but has never been widely available on DVD.
According to Box Office Mojo, its domestic gross is $25,480,490; it did not beat its budget of $30,000,000.
Mimic was planned as one of three 30-minute short films intended to be shown together. It was expanded into a full-length movie, as was Impostor. The short film Alien Love Triangle remains a 30-minute short film, and has never been released.
Two direct-to-video sequels were made, neither of which involved del Toro.
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