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By Clint Morris | October 14, 2003

If there’s one thing that’s usually erroneous with sequels, it’s that most of them are merely a re-hash of the original. From “Psycho 2” to “I Still Know what you did last Summer” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, Hollywood’s somehow come to a fallacious conclusion that audiences simply desire more of the same. Anyone with a copy of any given week’s box office figures disproves that belief in one fair swoop. In fact, these days the only good sequels that last atop of the box office are ones offering something somewhat different.
Although it won’t be faring for your hard earned dollar at the multiplex, being a direct to disc title, “Mimic 3: Sentinel” has done exactly that. It’s tossed what we know about the esoteric chiller franchise out the window, and replaced it with something ostensibly diverse. And depending on your take on what makes a good horror movie, you’ll cheer writer-director J.T Petty for the change.
Connected in name and lead creature only to the previous films, “Sentinel” centers largely on a “bubble boy” type, Marvin (Karl Geary), who spends most of his time staring out his window, taking photographs of his neighbors. It’s while doing that one night that he and promiscuous drug-addicted younger sister (gorgeous Alexis Dziena) witness what they believe is a murder. What they don’t know is that the neighbourhood alley is home to a couple of colossal storming cockroaches.
Part “Rear Window”, part “Aliens”, Petty’s take on the third “Mimic” movie is significantly different than the norm. In fact, the young director – who burst onto the scene with the artsy student horror flick “Soft for Digging” – seems intent on giving audiences anything but a “Mimic” sequel. Which is all the more good considering how fast many went for the stop button come “Mimic 2”. Hopefully, audiences will trust the studio another time so that they can see that they have gotten it right this time.
“Mimic 3” rests more contently on the suspense scale, rather than horror. It has a few deathly scares near the film’s end (who ever thought a refrigerator was safe ground), but for almost an hour of the film there’s barely a monster in sight. At least, not a whole casing. And it works. Seems for once, the characters at play (Karl Geary’s immersive performance as Marvin, especially) are much more interesting than the misshapen creatures of the title. When the villains do come into play, it’s all the more effective, because we’ve gotten to know each of the characters. In many respects, this is artsy as a studio horror film gets.
Effects wise, there are a couple of really good touches. And funnily enough, they’re not the economised creatures. It’s mainly the cheapish, but tremendously effective opening sequences – burning photographs – and shadowy, illegible illumination sleight of hand.
Proceedings become less captivating half way through, but for the most part, an inoculation of uniqueness and a victorious mix of character-detail and plot get “Mimic: Sentinel” an effortless silvery star. Hopefully, it’ll be a guide to others planning on mountaineering rehash mount in the near future.
I’m all for quality rather than quantity, and thankfully the small portion of extras offer more than typical fluff. Petty provides insightful chatter for the film’s lone commentary, talking specifically about his preliminary idea and look for the film. There’s also audition tapes of the lead cast members, and predominantly, and best of all, a comprehensive documentary where cast and crew talk about the impetus and making of the film. An engrossing featurette the likes of which I’ve been seeing little of lately.

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