Re:View – ‘Mimic – The Director’s Cut’
Unlike the head of Universal (see further down), Guillermo del Toro doesn’t compromise his ideas. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the film we had planned together had been made (Guillermo mentions it on the DVD extras here, bringing a lump to my throat) but at least he had a chance to partially correct the painful compromises forced on him in ‘Mimic’.
Stressing that this is a ‘director’s cut of the available footage’, del Toro still transforms the film into a much more cohesive whole – and has plenty to say about Harvey Weinstein’s interference on the commentary, none of it good.
The story follows two young scientists who end an insect-spread New York virus by adding a mutated genetic strain. By doing so, Jeremy Northam and Mira Sorvino take an experimental solution from the lab into the real world, where they can’t control it. Three years later the bugs have mutated thousands of generations into creatures that have adopted mimicking poses as they set their sights on humans.
But the real del Toro touch to the story has always been the autistic boy and his religious shoeshine father who are accidental witnesses to the rise of the mimic. The director had planned a number of scenes where humans and insects increasingly copy each other’s behaviour, including a killer downbeat end scene he discusses but never filmed. The revised version’s changes are all in the first hour, and include a more rounded relationship between the leads, and the rise of suspense that culminates in the second half’s trip into the New York subway. But we also get glimpses of the way in which humans start to become aware that they may no longer be the dominant species, when ‘cave markings’ are made by subway dwellers pointing to the emerging species.
The all-action ending still feels ridiculous, and I would love to see the scenario revisited one day (although the direct-to-video sequels were terrible). Last year the Big Apple suffered an infestation of super-hardy bed bugs that invaded even the poshest hotels – suddenly a story that once seemed far-fetch now feels almost believable.