This new series of “author inspirations” will comprise short takes on works that we find inspiring–whether those works are films, fiction, gaming products, or anything else.
Recently I picked up Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. In it are a number of illustrations from a 1997 film that I somehow missed when I tried to watch all of del Toro’s backlog several years ago–Mimic. (Spoilers herein.) I watched the thing just last night, and its main villain–a race of giant cockroaches, basically–have marvellously grotesque forelimbs that raise a human-like mask (formed out of their exoskeleton) across their mandibles. The title comes from the “Judas Breed” having the ability to mimic their prey, and there are some glorious moments where they stalk around, looking like men in oversized trench coats, which are actually their wings folded around them. Something I loved about these creatures is that I kept expecting them to be sentient–but they remained instinct-driven insects, with only a single glimmer, in the finale, of a possibly problem-solving intelligence. This increased the ecohorror aspect of the film, a Nature that could not be reasoned with.
Besides the monsters, there’s a lot that we could pull from Mimic. On the one hand, there are four to six “investigators,” but two of them are directly responsible for the outbreak of these creatures, which makes for some nice–though abbreviated–tensions within the group. How might we make investigators in our scenarios culpable in the very horror they combat?
I also found this interesting article re-hashing the director’s commentary of Mimic, and it raises some interesting issues around horror films and Hollywood politics, especially in the mid-1990s. For instance: del Toro originally envisioned one of the characters as gay, and the primary couple in the film were going to be mixed race. Both of these choices were nixed by the production company, but beg the question of how different Mimic might have been (and make me even more proud to love del Toro’s work).
Have you seen Mimic? What did you think? How does it hold up to the rest of del Toro’s oeuvre?
You can rent or purchase Mimic on Amazon for just a few dollars.
Till next time my lovelies,