Gooshy big bug bash

This new horror thriller promises quite a bit. It’s director, Gulliermo Del Toro, gave us the brilliant sleeper Cronos, and the script bears the names John Sayles, Steven Soderbergh, and Matthew Robbins. It also has an impressive cast, including Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Charles Dutton, Giancarlo Giannini and F. Murray Abraham. With all this talent at hand, it’s surprising that the film isn’t more ambitious. It starts out chillingly enough, with scenes of a mutant boogeyman stalking the shadowy streets at night, but later turns into an old fashioned – albeit suspenseful – update of the 1950s giant ant movie Them!

Actually, it’s a competent little monster movie. Sorvino, once again outshining her material, plays a geneticist specializing in entomology who creates a new kind of bug to wipe out disease carrying cockroaches that are causing a plague in New York. Unfortunately, though the bugs are designed to die off quickly, they breed and mutate even quicker. Three years later, Sorvino and her CDC director hubby discover that they’ve created a hive of 200 pound killer bugs living in the sewers and subway tunnels. Heedless of the Horror Movie Rules, our leads spend a lot of time poking around in deep, dark tunnels just begging to get munched by a big hungry insect.

Curiously, Mimic echoes Cronos quite a bit, as both films concern an old man, his grandson, and large, bloodthirsty bugs. Also, both are very well crafted and beautifully photographed. It’s a tribute to Del Toro’s skill that he keeps you on the edge of your seat, despite the fact that the situations are clich├ęd and the overhyped soundtrack music constantly tries to undercut his careful work. And if you’re looking for a movie with plenty of goo and grue, then you’ve come to the right place – it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a Hollywood film with this much icky splatter on display. This could have been much more than a routine big bug thriller, but only mimics what’s been done before.

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