August 23, 1997 -- "Mimic" is a fine example of that well-worn American film formula, the creature-feature.
The makers of "Event Horizon" should watch "Mimic" and take notes. This is how a creature-feature is supposed to be made. You can have your loud noises in the dark, the old hand-on-the-shoulder-from-behind trick, and a nasty creature killing people, but if it isn't done right, as in "Event Horizon" it not only fails to be scary, it can be down right irritating.
The story starts out with the premise that genetic engineering is bad, a stock storyline in Hollywood, where the powers that be are skeptical of science, but trusting of their astrologers and channelers. The science of the story is dubious at best, where genetic engineering unleashes a multitude of mutations, culminating in a kind of killer cockroach.
The scientists whose meddling in the affairs of holy mother Gaia led to this monstrous development, become, of course, the hunted in the dark subway caverns under New York. There is much darkness, dripping and potent ovipositions, similar to those in the "Alien" films.
What sets this film apart from most of this genre is the steady buildup of suspense, and the skillful way the director, Guillermo Del Toro, doesn't show his trump card too early. As in "Jaws" we are teased with the creature at first and the suspense builds right to the climax. The story shows the talent that went into the script, written by director Del Toro, Matthew Robbins, John Sayles and Steven Soderbergh. The last two, by the way are major directing talents as well as fine screenwriters.
Another plus is the fine performance by Oscar-winning Mira Sorvino as the pretty scientist in distress and the fine veteran actor Charles Dutton, who hits just the right working-class-hero tone as a subway cop named Leonard. The set design is also top notch and the camera work and editing are good.
This is a very well crafted film that had me glued to the edge of my seat practically the whole movie long. Scientifically, the film is a mess, and some parts of the story are too predictable, but on the whole, this is a good creature-feature. It rates a B.
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