After spending a good chunk of my morning reading up on Mimic, I find myself less surprised at the end result of the film. I found it to be a bit of a mess, like it was struggling to tell a story but kept getting sidetracked by giant bugs eating people.
Seems Guillermo del Toro distanced himself from the film as he felt Bob Weinstein had forced him to shoot scenes that deviated from the script. The movie sure has that feel to it, even though I was watching the new director’s cut on Blu-ray. I haven’t seen the original version but it sounds like there really isn’t that many major differences. Although the ending that del Toro wanted to shoot sounds much better than what we get here, having a much more ominous tone to it, and leaving the viewer wondering what’s going to happen. Instead, we get typical Hollywood happy ending crap.
This is really a simple giant bug flick, or at least that’s what is presented here. Perhaps del Toro had bigger intentions in the beginning. In the opening scene, we see a hospital full of sick and dying kids. A disease carried by cockroaches has infested Manhattan and doctor’s Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) and Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) are attempting to stop the cockroaches. Susan has created a mutant insect which secretes a fluid that kills the cockroaches. Problem solved. Well, until 3 years later when they start to realize that those mutant insects that were supposed to die have evolved into huge bugs that can mimic the appearance of humans.
There seems to be so many unexplored ideas. The biggest of which is the bugs looking like humans. We get numerous shots of what appears to be a man in a trenchcoat, skulking around in the shadows and being generally creepy. Now, this is supposed to be one of the giant bugs but after a while, we never see it like that anymore. Instead, it’s just a nasty looking, giant, insect thing. An ending that is talked about has some characters coming out of the subway, where they’ve been stalked by the giant insects for about half of the movie, only to find Grand Central Station full of these trenchcoat wearing bugs. That would have been pretty freaking creepy and a great way to end a film. That never happened though.
Another aspect that bugged me was the character of Chuy (Alexander Goodwin). Now, I assume he’s autistic, although he’s only referred to as ‘special’ by his grandfather. Actually, I’m not ever sure it was his grandfather. Can you see how I got lost in this story. Alright, the kid plays the spoons, which winds up sounding a lot like the sounds the giant bugs make. Eventually the kid winds up in the subway lair of the giant insects, apparently not getting eaten because he sounds like one of them. Seriously, what the hell is the point of this kid? He’s just there. I see how he fits into the story of Susan and Peter, they’re having trouble getting pregnant, here’s a kid that has nobody left. Yeah, sorry, the grandfather isn’t coming out of that sewer.
Maybe there were more scenes with Chuy that didn’t get filmed or were cut out. I just didn’t understand his importance to the story until a kind of lame ending. Also, what is the reason behind him being autistic? It just never made any sense to me. The biggest problem with the movie has nothing to do with the story or direction at all, it’s the fact that the film is so freaking dark. Here I am dropping a shiny new Blu-ray into my PS3 and I’m confronted with a picture that is almost impossible to see. Plenty of scenes were in almost complete black, maybe a sliver of someone’s face showing or a lighter in the dark. Problem there is that the lighter doesn’t actually light anything up.
I get it. You’re in the sewer, it’s dark. It would be nice if I could see something. You’re hiding the giant bugs, it’s more scary when we only get glimpses of them, but when I can’t see the characters in the movie, what the hell is the point of watching? If the film was always this dark, thank god I was watching it on Blu-ray or it would have had all that horrible blocking in the blacks. It’s just that a movie that’s this dark, I would normally tear apart. Where’s the fun when you can’t see what the hell is going on, and that’s the biggest complaint I have here. Not knowing what exactly was going on at points totally took me out of the film. I’ve seen most of del Toro’s directorial efforts and have enjoyed them all, up until I watched Mimic. It was nice to hear that even he didn’t like the finished effort but don’t go looking at the director’s cut to make the film better.
In the shadows – Will