(1997) is an American sci-fi/horror
film by Guillermo del Toro
, inspired by a short story of the same name by Donald A. Wollheim.
In Manhattan, cockroaches are spreading a deadly disease that is claiming hundreds of the city's children. Entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) uses genetic engineering to create what she and her colleague (and husband) Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) call the Judas Breed, a large insect (looking like a cross between a termite and a praying mantis) that releases an enzyme that kills off the disease-carrying roaches. The Judas Breed work spectacularly and the crisis is abated. Since the Judas Breed have also been designed to be sterile and unable to breed, the hybrid species should die out in a matter of months.
Some years later, people begin to go missing in the subways and tunnels under the city. Susan, Peter, and their staff learn that they severely underestimated the Judas Breed's ability to adapt to its conditions. The Judas Breed has found a way to reproduce itself and has evolved in order to better hunt a new food source. To everyone's horror, they discover that the Judas' new food source is humans, and now the insects have grown to be as big as people and can mimic the appearance and behavior of humans (from a distance) with uncanny accuracy...
Although del Toro was unhappy with the film as released, it includes several examples of his 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 Cuaron, del Toro's friend and colleague, "with Guillermo the shots are almost mathematical; everything is planned." That feature is evident too in Mimic, in the photography, most notably in the brooding shots described above and especially in the set design.Mimic
was followed by two Direct-to-Video
sequels, Mimic 2
(2001) and Mimic 3: Sentinel
(2003). In 2011, a "Director's Cut" was released on Blu-Ray.
This film contains examples of:
- Ambiguous Disorder: Thuy is almost certainly autistic with odd habits, attention to very specific details, and avoidance of eye contact.
- Artistic License – Biology: So many things:
- Insects cannot grow as large as humans, their body structure just doesn't work at that size. Though they apparently evolved lungs, it doesn't get around the molting problems or lack of an efficient vascular system in a bug that size.
- Termites have kings and queens, but the giant mantis/termite hybrids seem to have the former without the benefit of the (much more important) latter.
- The news report about the Judas breed claims that roaches are "infected by an enzyme" when they touch its secretions. Enzymes are chemicals, not pathogens, hence can't "infect" anything.
- And of course the whole concept of Mimic 2 is completely absurd.
- Audible Sharpness: All over the place with the Judas insects' praying mantis-like front legs.
- Blood from the Mouth: Josh's death in the first film.
- The Can Kicked Him: The first death occurs on the toilet.
- Creepy Cockroach
- Cruel and Unusual Death: A security guard has his face boiled off by an acid spray from the Judas Breed.
- The Determinator: The human-sized Judas Breed. In the second movie, the resident jock brandishes a blade torn from a paper cutter and a leg severed from a bug, suggesting they should attempt to fight their way to safety with improvised weapons, only to be embarrassingly upstaged by the resident geek pointing out that, yeah, he's strong enough to chop off a bug's head - that just means it will die of thirst in about a week. Humans like themselves will be long dead as the reflex action of the bug's body will have shredded them. In the first movie, a bug takes a full clip from a semiauto pistol after being sliced in half by a sliding door and still manages to scurry out of sight after maiming the shooter. In short, the bugs can only be killed by the equivalent of being crushed to paste - like being hit by speeding subway trains or incinerated with high explosives.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In the first movie, for the very few characters that survive.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Sometimes, averted quite hard at other times:
- The two kids (see below) get a really good look at a shredded dog before they're attacked and ripped apart themselves.
- Hard To Light Fire: The hero of the first film has to resort to striking sparks by banging scrap metal against pipes in order to set off the trapped gas and roast the bugs.
- Infant Immortality: Subverted: Two kids are horribly slaughtered by warrior bugs when they find and try to mess around with an egg case.
- Justified with Chuy at the end; he figures out how to mimic the bugs' clicking communication with his spoons, so the bugs accept him as one of them.
- Subverted again in the third film. The very first victim of the Judas Breed is a young boy who lives with his father and pre-teen brother. A scene later in the movie shows the inside of the apartment, where the older brother and the father have been torn to pieces.
- Look Both Ways: Giant Bug vs. Subway Train. Point goes to the train.
- Names To Run Away From: Biblical Names: The Judas Breed, a species of giant insectoid monsters. Since the scientists who engineered them picked the name themselves, they can charitably be called idiots for actually expecting their bio-engineering project to not Go Horribly Right.
- The Plague: The mutant bugs were first engineered to kill the cockroaches carrying a child-killing plague.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: Mimic 3 is Rear Window WITH GIANT GENETICALLY ENGINEERED HUMAN-MIMICKING BUGS!
- Rear Window Witness: Mimic 3.
- Science Is Bad: The first film, at least — complete with those old standards, scientists babbling about how "We changed their DNA, we don't know what we did!" and other characters saying what basically amounts to "They tampered in God's domain." As though they should have been expected to realize that their plague-ending roaches would evolve into human-mimicking subterranean predators.
- Although even the biggest critic of the project, Susan's mentor, follows up his criticism by saying that he had two grandchildren who would not have survived if the Judas bugs had not been released.
- Sinister Subway
- Stalker Shrine: Mimic 2 has Remy's door, covered with pictures of herself.
- Taxonomic Term Confusion: Walter's lecture refers to Insecta as a "Phylum". Insecta is a Class within the Phylum Arthropoda.
- They Look Like Us Now: The giant mantis/termite hybrids may not have a perfect disguise, but if you're in poor lighting and not paying attention, they look a lot like a tall man in a trenchcoat.
- Walking Backwards: One of the Red Shirts has this reaction upon seeing a cache of giant mutant bug eggs under New York City. He backs right into a giant mutant bug.
- Because they look more like people when seen from behind, the bugs themselves sometimes invoke this trope to get closer to their victims.
- What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: They called their big miracle remedy the Judas Breed. Possibly justified as it was meant to mimic and betray the insects that carried the deadly virus, but still...