Mimic: The Director's Cut (1997)
When I first saw Mimic in 1997, I was impressed by the fact that it offered a different perspective on the monster movie genre and that it seemed to have moments of greater depth than you'd expect from such material. Later on when I became more aware of the works of writer, director Guillermo del Toro, I learned that this movie had had a troubled production and that Miramx had imposed specific requirements upon the final cut of the film. This explained some of the movies inconsistencies and hinted at a far more ambitious artistic endeavour by del Toro. Initially Mimic was conceived as a thirty minute short and part of a three part anthology movie. However it along with the sci-fi film Imposter were both deemed to be of sufficient merit to be developed into feature length productions.
Initially Mimic appears to be just a standard creature feature, yet it soon becomes apparent that there’s more depth to the story than is usual for the genre. Cockroaches are spreading a fatal virus among the Manhattan's infants. Entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) genetically engineers the Judas Breed, a large insect that releases an enzyme that kills off the disease-carrying roaches by speeding up their metabolism. The Judas breed is also designed to only have one fertile male, which remains in quarantine, thus condemning the species to alleged oblivion. Naturally things do not work out as planned and three years later, Health Inspector Dr. Peter Mann (Jermey Northam) along with his detective friend Josh (Josh Brolin) become aware of increased deaths among the illegal immigrant and homeless communities.
Where Mimic stands out from other run-of-the-mill genre offerings, is its unusual characters and greater depth of narrative. The creation of a genetically modified Judas breed is played out against the struggles of our husband and wife protagonists attempts to have a baby. There is also an engaging sub-plot involving a shoe shine man and his autistic Grandson. The boy’s savant ability to identify shoe sizes at a glance, is cleverly utilised as he is the first to witness the mimics of the title. Unable to place them within the context of his world he refers to the one he sees as Mr. Funny Shoes. Mimic is another member of that rather exclusive cinematic club in which the death of a child is shown on screen.
The recent director's cut of Mimic adds an additional six minutes of footage to the existing print. Guillermo del Toro has striven to alter the overall feel of the film through additional editing and the use of colour filters. The audience does not necessarily gain any new insights into the story but the characters feel more rounded. The underground sequences have a more atmospheric feel to them and a stronger sense of menace. The revelation that the insects have learned to mimic the appearance of humans has a greater impact this time round. The tone of the movie, particularly the humour now takes on a distinctly darker hue. Overall the director's cut of Mimic is a refinement of the theatrical print.
Mimic was del Toro's first major US feature. If he made this now, I believe it would be a far more experimental picture. This revised improved version still remains a curio, rather than a classic; a hybrid mixture of the director's lyrical and cerebral approach to horror, along with the trappings of a more commercial picture. It is an odd blend but none the less very watchable. The film benefits from strong performances, especially Charles S. Dutton as a world weary transit policeman. There are also some solid shocks and jumps to be enjoyed. However even in this new format Mimic doesn't quite achieve the heights of the directors later works. However del Toro even under these circumstances is still a far more inviting and enthralling prospect than your average horror hack.