Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mimesis (Douglas Schulze, 2011, USA)

It's refreshing to see a film that knows the true meaning of the word "homage" -- something done or given in acknowledgment or consideration of the worth of another -- rather than "rip off," which is something we see far too often in films, especially horror movies.

Douglas Schulze's Mimesis is a clever homage to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead on one hand and a modern "thrill killer" movie on the other. After an opening scare starring Courtney Gaines, the audience is taken to a horror convention where Alphonze Betz (Sid Haig) rails against the media blaming horror movies for real life horrors. In the audience are Russell (Taylor Piedmonte) and his unlikely pal Duane (Allen Maldonado).

Russell is a horror fan while Duane is more keen on meeting some of the hotties at the con including Judith (Lauren Mae Shafer), a goth girl who invites the boys to a party later that night. Thinking he'll get some, Duane convinces Russell to drive out to the spooky farmhouse where they encounter some out-of-place regular people and a number of silent, spooky dudes all made up in makeup. Before the party gets too "dick in the mashed potatoes" crazy, Russell and Duane are down for the count, waking up dressed in different clothes and hanging out in some eerily familiar settings.

There's no "They're coming to get you, Barbara!" line in Mimesis but much of the rest of Night of the Living Dead is there as our protagonists find themselves cast in a living remake of the film, complete with flesh-tearing zombies.

Thus, Mimesis becomes a film with disparate characters trapped in a farmhouse with a menacing presence outside but the presence isn't supernatural, it's psychotic. Additionally, the script by Schulze and Joshua Wagner is incredibly self-aware, playing with and against the plot of NOTLD along with more current films where strangers toy with innocents (Them, Inside, High Tension, etc.).

Everyone involved brings a strong presence to the screen. If I had to pick on anything in the film it wouldn't be the performances, thank goodness. The one problem I had with the film -- and I don't think it was a projection gaffe -- was the audio mix. I don't think it was foley work but wild sound. Footsteps in the film, especially as characters would go up and down stairs at the farmhouse, were distractingly loud. They boomed through the packed theater where I was lucky enough to see the U.S. Premiere of the film. Maybe this will be fixed in the mix down the line and, fortunately, it wasn't enough to detract from my enjoyment of this clever film overall.


movieman said...

I am a horror fan, definitely like seeing people being slashed, heads cut off and blood splashed all over the place.. These are somme of the things that make a good horror movie....Acting is also important but I do not care much.....Well,this film looks good but there are so many other good films........

Mike White said...

Um, good. I don't really follow your thoughts on this one, movieman.

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