Mimic (director’s cut). 1997. USA. Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Screenplay by del Toro, Matthew Robbins, based on the short story by Donald A. Wollheim. With Mira Sorvino, Forrest Whitaker, Josh Brolin, Jeremy Northam. In English. DCP. 112 min.
To stop a deadly plague, entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) develops a genetically engineered insect that wipes out Manhattan’s cockroach population. Surprise, surprise, this act of scientific hubris has unforeseen consequences, and the new species, designed to mimic its prey, mixes up its disguises as it moves up the food chain. Soon Susan and some unlucky compatriots find themselves in the abandoned subway tunnels below New York City, fighting for their lives against giant humanoid bugs. Though it teems with Del Toro’s cinematic preoccupations—monsters, metamorphoses, dark netherworlds, ooze—and the production design and creature effects are characteristically awe-inspiring, studio head Harvey Weinstein’s constant interference (and a lack of final-cut approval) led the filmmaker to describe the production as “one of the worst experiences of my life.” Luckily, the 2010 director’s cut addresses many of Del Toro’s misgivings, and shows why Mimic stands mandible-and-shoulders above most late-1990s horror films