A Sound A Extras A+
starring Alix Koromzay, Bruno Campos, Jon Polito, Edward Albert
screenplay by Joel Soisson
directed by Jean De Segonzac
by Walter Chaw The direct-to-video Mimic 2 abandons the B-movie brilliance of its predecessor in favour of such lacklustre slasher movie conventions as an inexorable monster and a cast of disposable victims. It introduces an inexplicable sexual punishment/revenge theme, a resourceful scream queen, the "surprise" ability of the villain to withstand bullets/beheading/burning for one last scare, and a closed environment consisting all of ill-lit halls and basements. Consequently, as Mimic 2 reveals itself to be more of a slasher flick than a monster movie, it honours repetition-honed slasher sequel conventions: the body count escalates, the gore and blood increases, the time the creatures spend on-screen mounts, and the characteristics of the bad guy/s evolve. Sadly, the only things this film really has in common with the original are similar creature effects and the return of the least memorable supporting character, now in the lead role.
Changing the "y" in her name to an Apollonian "i" between the first and second movies, Remi (Alix Koromzay), the quirky pal of Mira Sorvino's Dr. Susan Tyler, is now teaching entomology at an inner city high school to a bunch of Dangerous Minds extras when a series of bizarre face-eating deaths alerts her that the giant human-imitating bugs of the first film have returned to wreak havoc in a strangely empty South Bronx. With no explanation as to the location of Susan from Mimic, Remi takes on the Ripley role in a film that quickly settles itself in as an amalgam of Aliens and Alien3. The one character who has actually had experience with the giant bugs (like Ripley in Aliens)--and somehow having taken on the hive "queen" mantle, thus escaping a face-to-face with one of the beasties (like Ripley in Alien3)--Remi leads a small band of misfits through an abandoned school-cum-hive (Aliens) with the monsters hot on their trail ("they're in the walls!").
Mimic 2 is more than just plot-derivative of the second and third films of the Alien quartet. Visually, it takes from (though some would say it's "faithful to") Guillermo Del Toro's lurid Hopper-esque rendering of a wintry Big Apple in Mimic. Too, it's arguable that Del Toro cribbed his visual style (including title sequence) from Alien3's director, David Fincher (while sharing Alien3 actor Charles S. Dutton); the only conclusion with real currency is that Mimic 2 is not, at any time, its own film--and the only question is the extent of its pilfering. The moment that Mimic 2 could possibly be thought of as original is ironically in a finale that unforgivably overextends itself into the disbelief-shattering realm of monstrum ex machina. Still, despite its pilfering from familiar source materials and the occasional perfidy to its own internal logical structure, Mimic 2 is a surprisingly decent monster/slasher movie that floats amiably for a while on the strength of its glowering atmosphere and excellent creatures (though they are neither as cogent nor as surprising as they are in Mimic). Additionally, an admirable dedication to messily damaging main characters leads to a truly surprising (and disgusting) development late in the game. This nasty little event merits the movie a look for the curious horror fan in and of itself.
I will confess, however, that I was mildly disappointed with the decision to not only reproduce much of the first's foreshadowing "hive insect 101" dialogue, line for line, but also to again feature an older Asian man as the prologue's sacrificial lamb. Perhaps an accident, the fact that the only appearance of an Asian in either film is in a brief cameo as insect food suggests a certain sloppiness and backhanded insensitivity that stinks of either fecklessness or cultural sadism. I'd like to posit a third possibility: that of a satire of the minimalization of certain racial groups in American films. But I suspect that would be placing credit where credit ain't due.
Filmed with a good feel for mood by television director/cinematographer Jean de Segonzac ("Oz," "Homicide"), who makes the most of a limited visual effects budget, Mimic 2 is clearly less than good, fatally stricken by a knock-off script and poor performances. In the final analysis, it isn't even a sequel in terms of sub-genre classification, making a bad choice in crossing over into slasher filmdom, and sorely missing the archetypal resonance, surprising depth, and superlative supporting cast of Mimic. It remains, however, a somewhat diverting visual entertainment in a burgeoning video franchise that would do well not to try to rely on its interesting monster next time, though it's still interesting enough just this once.
The Dimension DVD release of Mimic 2 is terrific in every respect. The enhanced 1.85:1 video is crisp and agile, able to handle the brilliant colour and flash-effects with neither bleed nor streaking. The shadow detail is exquisite--a scene in an alley with a cop and a corpse stands as a showcase for fast action, lush saturations, and fantastically clean color separation in a low light situation. The Dolby 5.1 mix is equally accomplished, providing some exceptional front-to-back and side-to-side panning. Crashes and clicks jump from all channels, supplying at least two legitimate startles and one guilty yelp. Additionally, the digital clarity is a showcase for Walter Werzowa's nicely orchestrated score; a solid effort on every technical front.
A 37-minute behind-the-scenes documentary called "5 Days of Mimic 2"is among the best of its kind that I have ever seen. It includes a massive amount of actual behind-the-scenes footage including preparation, make-up, and some decidedly chintzy stunt work (an effect involving a bug battering into a barricade is accomplished by a guy ramming a trolley into it at a full gallop). A fascinating and helpful glimpse into the machinations behind a low-budget creature feature, "5 Days of Mimic 2" is almost more entertaining than the film itself.
A 6-minute sound documentary called "Behind the Sound of Mimic 2" is a pretty neat glimpse into the job of sound editor Gary Rizzo as he takes us through the post-production mixing of a particular sequence, layer by layer. Five deleted scenes introduce a little character errata and vague explanations but nothing that's too terribly elucidative of the final product. The most important elision seems to be the revelation that Remi is seen as the queen of the mimic hive; since that revelation is non-sensical unless one bestows (human) male sexual jealousy on the giant termites, it's probably for the best that it fell by the wayside.
The film is rounded out by trailers for other Dimension releases: Mimic, The Yards, Immortality, The Ultimate Scream Collection DVD Box Set, The From Dusk Till Dawn DVD Box Set, Dracula 2000,and Hellraiser: Inferno. The last of which, the fifth in that series, is actually sort of good, by the way. Originally published: August 8, 2001.