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The bugs DO work; MIMIC (18).

I have to admit that I came to scoff at Mimic - but stayed to squirm. "A film about giant killer cockroaches?" I thought. "Maybe my life is rich enough without seeing this one."

Besides, I still haven't forgotten the maggoty mess, Starship Troopers.

But Mimic's crawlies are really creepy. It's impossible to watch - but also impossible to stop watching.

Mira Sorvino is a bug scientist who genetically engineers a superbug programmed to kill off a species of plague- ridden cockroaches, then die themselves.

Of course, it all goes horribly wrong because that's what happens when you play God in the movies. Some of the beasties survive and mutate into a colony of large, hungry, man-eating cockroaches.

And if you've ever tried to kill a cockroach, you'll understand the problem. They are the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the insect kingdom. Even bullets won't stop them.

Handicapped by the stupid storyline, you might think Mimic would fall into all the usual clichs.

And yes, when someone hears a strange sound from a very dark, deserted corner in this movie, they do grab a torch and head off to investigate.

And when Mira realises the damage she's done, she goes off with just her husband (Jeremy Northam) and a cop (Charles S. Dutton) to wage war against an unknown insect population with no thought of telling the authorities where she's off to.

But when the insects claim two children near the start, you know this is a film that won't play by the rules. Even the dog dies in Mimic. Despite all that, the film is surprisingly low on gore.

Instead this movie specialises in the almost excruciating tension of the best roller coaster ride.

In its favour is director Guillermo Del Toro's stylish and atmospheric vision (one which made his 1993 vampire flick Cronos so popular), steeping the action in shadows and the vaulting Gothic architecture of a turn-of- the-century New York underground station, in which our heroes become trapped.

All very creepy.

But it has to be said that the film's title is somewhat misleading. These superbugs don't really mimic human beings, though with their wings folded, they can look alarmingly like a tall man in a long coat.

And the film can't resist mimicking other movies, too - the stick gooey egg pods hanging on the wall could be straight from Alien.

The monsters-in-subway roars remind you of Alligator. Still, when the film does borrow its images and effects, it's only from the best.

And it's got enough original scares up its sleeve to make Mimic the best horror film since Scream.

But be warned - you'll go home with some DDT.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 26, 1998
Previous Article:Victorie, 4, proves you are never too young to shine; PONETTE (15).

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