MIMIC 3: SENTINEL
Directed by J.T. Petty
Produced by Ron Schmidt
Written by J.T. Petty
Director of Photograpy Alex Sterian
Music by Henning Lohner
Cast: Karl Geary, Alexis Dziena, Amanda Plummer, John Kapelos, Rebecca Mader & Lance Henriksen
2003/76 mins/Color/5.1 DD
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Buena Vista Home Entertainment DVD
When I first received the press release for MIMIC 3: SENTINEL, my immediate response was "MIMIC 3? Was there a MIMIC 2?" As it turns out, there was a MIMIC 2 (which I haven't seen), and now, we have MIMIC 3. The first film in the series barely made back its budget, so it should seem surprising that there are now two sequels. But, with the money which can be made from home video these days, sequels like MIMIC 3: SENTINEL are inevitable...and unnecessary.
MIMIC 3: SENTINEL (the on-screen title is actually, MIMIC SENTINEL) takes place several years after the events seen in MIMIC. Marvin (Karl Geary) is a 26-year old man who is basically confined to his room. He was a victim of Strickler's Disease (the debilitating disease which was the catalyst for the story in MIMIC) and his hyper-sensitivity to any odors or pollutants. To pass the time, Marvin photographs all of his neighbors and creates a collage of the portraits, giving those that he doesn't know made-up names. His sister, Rosy (Alexis Dziena), keeps him up to date on the events of the neighborhood. One night, Marvin notices a strange man, whom he dubs "Garbageman" wandering the neighborhood. Soon afterward, he becomes convinced that he's seen a murder in the alley across the street. Marvin tells his Mom (Amanda Plummer), and they contact the police, in the guise of Dumars (John Kapelos), but no body is found. Determined to prove that what he saw actually occurred, Marvin recruits Rosy and her friend Carmen (Rebecca Mader) to infiltrate the building opposite of Marvin's room to search for clues. Their search disturbs a group of giant Judas bugs, the insects who can walk like humans and crave violence. As Marvin watches helplessly from his room, a drama begins to unfold, and it becomes clear that everyone is in danger of becoming lunch for the bugs!
I know what you're thinking, "That sounds like REAR WINDOW with giant bugs." And that's exactly what MIMIC 3: SENTINEL is (and that's the film that first-time director J.T. Petty was told to make). And, as with the Hitchcock classic, much of the action is implied. This results in what can only be called a boring film. The bulk of the movie feels like a play, as it takes place in Marvin's room. We get to watch Marvin look through his camera and argue with Rosy. I can only assume that this was meant to convey Marvin's feeling of helplessness to the viewer, but all that it did for me was make me reach for the fast-forward button. There are two murders in the first twenty minutes, but these are shot in a very quick-cut style, and it's two characters which we know nothing about who are killed.
From there, there isn't any more "action" until after the 40-minute mark. It makes no sense for a movie that's only 76-minutes long to drag, but this one certainly does. The last 20-minutes of the film is meant to be exciting, but the story becomes so confusing and convoluted that it's hard to care about the action. There is some gore in the final act, but it's nothing that we haven't seen before. The script has very little to do with MIMIC and the "essential" plot-points -- Marvin's disease and the Judas bugs -- could have been any ailment which would keep one confined to a room and any sort of monster/killer. In REAR WINDOW, when Grace Kelly went to the "killer's" apartment to snoop, there was genuine suspense. Here, the reaction is, "Wait. Who are they? Why are they going over there? Why should I care?" To make matters worse, there is this odd cello music on the soundtrack, but it's unclear if this is the score, or incidental music in the movie. It's just always there! The cast is all very flat, most notably Geary, who isn't a very convincing lead, and don't look for this to be a Lance Henriksen vehicle. He's barely in the film. Writer/director J.T. Petty has worked some nice shots and transitions into the film, but the weakness of his script ultimately kills the movie. MIMIC 3: SENTINEL shouldn't be punished because it's a low-budget horror film, no it's sin is that it's an unwanted sequel and it's budget could have been put towards a fresh idea.
MIMIC 3: SENTINEL leaps onto DVD from Dimension Home Video, which is part of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing little grain and no defects from the source print. Petty has given the film a very dark and washed-out look, but some of the scenes are actually too dark to tell what is happening. The rare appearance of color looks fine, and there is only a hint of edge-enhancement here. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects, but it pretty weak in the surround departments. There are some music cues and "jump" effects that come through the rear speakers and trigger a bass response, but for the most part, this is basically a stereo track.
The DVD contains three extra features. We start with an audio commentary from writer/director J.T. Petty. As this was his first feature film, Petty talks about the challenges of putting together the movie in a short amount of time, and the stressors of shooting in Romania. He comments on things that he would like to change, but is complimentary of his cast and crew. There is a 15-minute "Making of" featurette, which contains more comments from Petty. This segment also contains clips from his student film SOFT FOR DIGGING. This looks like a very interesting film, and Dimension should have release it on DVD instead of paying to have MIMIC 3 made. The featurette also shows a great deal of behind the scenes footage, some highlighting the stray dogs which infiltrated the set in Romania. Finally, there are audition tapes for Dziena, Geary, Mader, Kapelos, and Keith Robinson. For a direct-to-video feature, the featurette and commentary are pretty good.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©