Mimesis Review [NYCHFF 2012]
Mimesis (Noun) – imitation or reproduction of the supposed words of another, as in order to represent his or her character.
Horror movies, violent video games, valueless television programming, hateful music – all blames for societies problems. Not to sound desensitized and emotionless, but every time there’s another shooting, media outlets immediately turn to what movies or music the perpetrator was indulging in, blaming the likes of Marilyn Manson and torture porn horror films for the world’s problems, instead of abused and psychologically scarred upbringings, mental instability, and other real factors that drive certain people to such acts of depravity.
That’s where Mimesis comes in.
Douglas Schulze’s film depicts the drastic lengths extremists would go to if psychopaths were directly influenced by the gore and carnage found in horror movies, actually mimicking what they see on-screen in a real-time game of life and death. It’s a farfetched and hard to believe scenario, thinking a cult-like group could exist who just go around re-enacting horror films in real life with actual victims and grizzly consequences, but in the same respect, there have been insane serial killers and cults before, why not one obsessed with horror films?
Specifically in Mimesis, we follow the group of out-of-the-box thinking thrill seekers, aka murderous adventurers, who brutally commandeer a desolate farmhouse and do their best scenery development to bring their latest role-playing horror game to life – George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead. Yes, real life people, dressed as zombies, completely role-playing the undead part as far as to eat their victims alive for the “rush.” Who are their victims? Poor horror convention fans who just wanted to nerd out with some fellow lovers, thinking the farmhouse was a prime party location, not a sick game for twisted enjoyment. Now it looks like the one love that brought all these strangers together in the first place might just be tearing them apart, limb from bloody limb.
Admittedly, I DUG Joshua Wagner’s script based on Douglas Schulze’s story idea. As a horror fan, and even deeper as a zombie fan, the idea of obsessed adrenaline junkies looking to reenact horror films for their next fix is absolutely bonkers, but the writing pretty much deals with every tiny detail to make the situation as real as possible. I immediately scoffed at the original visual of actual people acting out cannibalistic urges on real people, biting into flesh and not even flinching, but even that stretch of a plot point was covered pretty ingeniously by our creative team, making our killers look even more brilliantly psychotic and less random. This horror loving cult doesn’t mess around, and neither does Schulze’s vision.
Negatively though, acting really suffers in parts, and seriously makes Mimesis feel low-budget, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you’re referring to more rookie mistakes. Actress Jana Thompson might have been the biggest offender of poor acting early on, playing female character Karen who gets stuck embodying Barbra from Romero’s film, but without the acting chops of original actress Judith O’Dea. Along with all the good I remember from Schulze’s film, I can also vividly remember Thompson’s first reaction to the “zombies,” just squealing and mumbling about the farmhouse about zombies, overacting her distress and completely butchering the emotion of fear, pretty much running about nonsensically opening random doors and running out of rooms like a chicken with its head cut off, appearing comical instead of tensely threatening. But acting and horror movies don’t always mix well, so I’m used to this type of foolishness, albeit distracting and lackluster.
Besides Thompson, there wasn’t much else that really made me stop in my tracks casting wise, but not much stood out either, which I was perfectly fine with. I always love Sid Haig appearances, so his cameo was good for a chuckle, and main character Allen Maldonado was a strong enough lead for our survivors to follow, our crazed zombie impersonators put on a damn good villainous showing, so hey, I’ll live with moments where one character’s performance isn’t up to par. Could be worse, it could have been the whole cast!
Getting back to the brighter parts of Mimesis, I was impressed Schulze delivered TRUE horror. It might be just me, but watching people pretend to be zombies and munch on living beings was invading and unsettling, really exploited the demented thinking of some uber-monsters that lurk in society. I mean, think about how outspoken people are about this material when someone goes on a shooting spree. Now imagine if we found a farmhouse where people had been murdered by other PEOPLE biting away chunks of man meat to get into someone’s gooey core. With all the horrendous acts of thoughtless pain and suffering carried out by mentally unstable chameleons who blend into societal groups, would you even be surprised if someone took serial killing to the next level as such? Sometimes horror isn’t derived from visuals on-screen, but the real life implications hinted at via narrative. In that case, Mimesis is a perfect parody of itself, suggesting the very thing it bashes.
Mimesis is a horror fan’s dream concept, recalling a classic film with superior cult like worship, but struggles at times to deliver consistent grade-A material. The gore is sharp, the blood flows like a gushing river of terror, our script contained actual explanations and continuity, but acting and production sometimes slipped into dangerous areas.
We joke around how we’d fare in a horror film, but forget sometimes fear conquers all, and Schulze took that fear and translated it into a cool little indie flick that puts victims exactly into the scenario we talk about. It’s like an amusement park ride gone horribly awry, where the workers start killing and you have free reign to fight your way out by any means necessary. Can’t say I’d want to get stuck in there, but hell, Mimesis asks a really, awfully sick question I hope you can answer within seconds – “Why watch a horror film when you can live one?”
Oh yeah, as a fun fact, Schulze is currently in post-production on Mimesis 2, which pays homage to the timeless vampire classic Nosferatu. For fans of Mimesis, I’ll keep you up to date when I hear more on release details!
Mimesis is a horror fan's dream concept, recalling a classic film with superior cult like worship, but struggles at times to deliver consistent grade-A material.