I don’t think it’s a controversial statement to say that most of the world’s population is bothered by bugs. We don’t like them on us, near us, or in anything we make regular contact with like food or bedding. Yes, some people eat them, but we don’t like them alive.
So what do you think would happen if a mutant strain of bugs got as large as humans… and developed camouflage to allow them to walk amongst us? Aside from a lot of screaming and bulk purchase of Raid, it would apparently turn out like the events of the “Mimic Three Movie Collection” — a slow decline from Guillermo del Toro at his most tampered-with, to a sort of “Rear Window” with giant bugs.
In the director’s cut of del Toro’s “Mimic,” children are ravaged by a cockroach-carried disease, forcing Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) to create a drastic a solution — a sterile mantis/termite crossbreed that will destroy the cockroaches, then die. Of course, it doesn’t — a few years later she stumbles across a Judas larva, just before street urchins and subway dwellers start going missing. When an enormous dead insect is found washed into the water treatment plant, Susan knows for sure that the Judas bug has not only survived and reproduced — but it’s evolving at a ghastly rate.
Meanwhile, her hubby Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam), subway cop Leonard (Charles Dutton) and an immigrant (Giancarlo Giannini) looking for his autistic son all venture down into the deserted subways. But Susan has run afoul of the Judas insects — and as all the humans huddle in an abandoned subway car, she finds that the insects have evolved even further than she thought.
And because Hollywood loves it some sequels, “Mimic 2” debuted sans del Toro, and focused a scaled-down story on a supporting character from the first movie. Men are being found de-faced and hung up on wires, and the only thing the victims had in common is that they went on dates with Remy (Alix Koromzay), who has somehow gone from a quirky entomologist to a quirky inner-city schoolteacher who is obsessed with bugs. Well, it turns out that there’s a male Judas bug on the loose in Remy’s school… and it wants to mate with her. Eww.
Then we have “Mimic 3: Sentinel,” which asks the compelling question: what kind of giant-bug movie would Alfred Hitchcock make? I don’t know the answer, but it probably wouldn’t be “Mimic 3: Sentinel.”
Marvin (Karl Geary) was one of the last survivors of the roach-borne disease, and is now confined to a special sterilized room. So he spends his days spying on people, including his drug-dabbling sister Rosy (Alexis Dziena), his neighbor Carmen (Rebecca Mader) and a weirdo he calls the Garbageman (Lance Henriksen). When he notices that people are disappearing, he tries to alert the police that something weird is up… and yes, it involves a Judas bug.
Put in the bluntest possible terms, the Mimic trilogy is made up of one pretty-good-but-not-del-Toro’s-best horror movie, and then two sequels that… aren’t very good. Del Toro’s film is a grimy, slow-build of shadowy horror, which takes full advantage of just how creepy bugs can be, especially in an urban setting. Lots of rusty pipes and eerie underground tunnels swarming with eyeless horrors.
The sequels, though? Well, the second movie has atmosphere, with dark corridors and steam-filled rooms… but the big twist is pretty predictable, and there’s an uncomfortably misogynistic undercurrent to having the only female character be present for her babymaking potential. And the third movie…. feels like a lost TV pilot for an ongoing “Mimic” TV show, honestly, and the climax bounces out of nowhere without much warning or resolution. But it has Lance Henrikson!
The “Mimic Three Movie Collection” is a good way to visit the least of Guillermo del Toro’s movies — a solid horror movie, with two sequels that aren’t as good but might make for a nice spooky watch.