Taglines: We protect ourselves by destroying our enemies but evolution has a way of keeping things alive.
A disease carried by common cockroaches is killing Manhattan children. In an effort to stop the epidemic an entomologist, Susan Tyler, creates a mutant breed of insect that secretes a fluid to kill the roaches. This mutant breed was engineered to die after one generation, but three years later Susan finds out that the species has survived and evolved into a large, gruesome monster that can mimic human form.
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.
Del Toro was unhappy with the film as released, especially because he did not succeed in obtaining a final cut of the film; however, his director’s cut version was finally released in 2011. Mimic, whose U.S. theatrical gross was $25.5 million, was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Mimic 2 (2001) and Mimic 3: Sentinel (2003), neither of which involved del Toro.
It 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.”
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 Spanish language is the possibility of directing Luppi, for whom del Toro professes the utmost admiration.
About the Story
In Manhattan, cockroaches are spreading the deadly “Strickler’s disease” that is claiming hundreds of the city’s children. Dr. Peter Mann (Northam), Deputy Director of the CDC, recruits entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Sorvino), 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 church reverend is chased and dragged underground by a strange assailant. The only witness is Chuy, the “special” ward of an immigrant subway shoe shiner named Manny (Giannini). 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 (Abraham), 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 (Dutton) 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.
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Josh Brolin, Giancarlo Giannini, Alexander Goodwin, F. Murray Abraham, Charles S. Dutton, Josh Brolin, Warna Fisher
Screenplay by: Matthew Robbins, Guillermo del Toro
Production Design by: Carol Spier
Cinematography by: Dan Laustsen
Film Editing by: Peter Devaney Flanagan, Patrick Lussier
Costume Design by: Marie-Sylvie Deveau
Set Decoration by: Elinor Rose Galbraith, Bob Kensinger
Art Direction by: Tamara Deverell
Music by: Marco Beltrami
MPAA Rating: R for terror / violence and language.
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Release Date: August 22, 1997