19 March 2005 | BrandtSponseller
The Return of the Intelligent Stalker Boyfriend Roach
Series Note: see main body of review.
Elementary school teacher and noted author "Remy" (Alix Koromzay) has man problems. Unfortunately, they're getting worse as the men she has problems with are ending up dead and she's the prime suspect. At the same time, we see that at least one of the superbugs from Mimic (1997) has survived. Remy, her wannabe boyfriends, a couple students, the police, the superbugs and some X-Files-ish mysterious government types are on a collision course in this film.
I usually try to write my reviews within 24 hours of watching a film, at most. The fresher the film is in my mind the easier it is to record my feelings about it. I also have a tendency to forget films fairly quickly if I haven't seen them a few times. If I wait too long the review is not likely to make it even past the larval stage. Mimic 2 I watched a couple days ago already. The main reason that I'm bringing this up is that the more I think about it, the more I can't remember why I didn't give it an even higher rating (I jot my rating down immediately). It seems in retrospect that this film should have been at least a 9 for me. But usually my first judgment is right, at least at the time, and so an 8 it is on this viewing.
Of course, even an 8 is a lot higher than most folks are giving this film. A large part of the reason why is that Mimic 2 is completely different in tone than the first Mimic. Although Remy is a returning character (she had a very minor role in the first film), there's no reason that you need to watch the original before this one, unless you just want more background on the superbugs.
I suspect that the other reason why most folks are rating Mimic 2 much lower than I is because writer Joel Soisson and director Jean de Segonzac couldn't care one whit about making the film "realistic". Mimic 2 is a campfest, a cheesathon, and a frequently absurdist celebration of filmic artificiality for its own sake. I happen to love those qualities. If you don't, you'll likely hate this film.
The embrace of artificiality is beautifully present in the production design and lighting. An early indicator is near the end of the opening sequence, as "species extinguisher" Lincoln Trahm is making his way out of the subway system. He emerges onto a "New York City street" amidst glowing neon and other lighting in strong primary colors straight out of Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977). The film takes place primarily on two sets, the "outside surfaces" of which are covered in attractively garish graffiti. The school set has an architectural style of "retro-dilapidated", and there are unusual touches such as the "desk nest" which blocks the hall during later, pivotal scenes.
Much more bizarre and frequently funny are the characters, plot and dialogue. Remy is a noted entomologist and author of at least a popular scientific account of insects, yet she teaches elementary school. She is a serial one-time-dater, apparently with commitment aversions, but she doesn't seem very choosy with her dates. Afterwards, she takes Polaroid photographs of herself making grotesque faces (mimics?) and then writes the name of the date-gone-wrong beneath the image before adding them to her wall of shame. It a behavior that, not unsurprisingly, resembles a serial killer to Detective Klaski (Bruno Campos).
As for the superbug, Soisson and Segonzac decided to take the human mimicry from the previous film more literally. In Mimic 2, the main bug is clearly sentient, becoming just another psycho boyfriend for Remy. It's delightfully goofy, although not without precedent--to an extent it resembles the alien insect from Invader/Lifeforce (1996).
"Delightfully goofy" couldn't be more apt for this film overall. It seems as if Soisson and Segonzac couldn't take the premise quite seriously, so in lieu of the intense, high-action dingy glum of Mimic, they went the tongue-in-cheek route and gave us something not that far removed from, say, a later Frank Henenlotter film. Another angle, which is probably the reason for the stressed artificiality, is that it parallels the superbug's attempts, which are far from perfect, to mimic humankind. It's as if the sets, the lighting, the characters, the plot, and everything else is mimicking reality at the same time it's superficially mimicking the previous film.
Segonzac still achieves an alienating gloom beneath all of the camp, and the film is routinely suspenseful--it's difficult to not be suspenseful when you're dealing with bugs. An important story point on that end is that Mimic has its share of smaller bugs, too--the kind that can easily be behind your desk, in the back of your shelves, in your closet, under your bed, or right outside your door or window. The creature effects are all excellent. It's also wonderfully gory in some parts, although it's mostly bug gore, but that tends to have a higher "ewww" factor for me than human gore. Even more powerful, there are some instances where the two types of gore are effectively "mixed".
While I'm sure I won't help resell the film to viewers who have already seen it and hated it, hopefully I can help sway those on the fence, and help guide those who don't know if they'd like to bother. It's important to develop a taste for camp and for the purposefully unrealistic and ridiculous--it's a common approach from filmmakers. Films like Mimic 2 do not tend to have their odd differences because of incompetence. Rather, there is usually an artistic reason for making particular decisions. That fact won't help you acquire the taste for these kinds of films, but at least it can help you understand why they exist as they do.