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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Mimesis (Blu-ray)
Mimesis (Blu-ray)
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // February 12, 2013 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 7, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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Russell (Taylor Piedmonte) comes to in a cemetery. He doesn't know where he is or what's going on, exactly, but that clumsily-fitting suit, the ridiculous necktie, these leather gloves...that's not what he was wearing at that low-rent horror convention or the oddball afterparty last night.
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Sprawled out next to him is a blonde (Jana Thompson) that looks like she tripped on a rock in 1967 and somehow landed in the here and now. As the two of them try to get their bearings, a distant figure shambles onto the frame. Russell meekly assumes this cadaverous stranger is just some hungover partier from the night before who can clue them into whatever it is that's happening. Instead the ghoul leans in for a bite and rips out Russell's throat. Karen flees to the closest thing to sanctuary in sight: a nearby farmhouse. See, Karen's never been much for horror. If she had, maybe this whole thing would be instantly familiar. Maybe if Karen were to look in the mirror, she'd realize someone's dolled her up to be a dead ringer for Judith O'Dea. She'd get a nagging familiar feeling after running by the black guy in the truck. Surely the family holed up in the basement -- complete with an overbearing, loudmouth of a father -- would clue her in. ...but no. Karen's never seen Night of the Living Dead before, but all of a sudden, she's starring in it.

That's a hell of a hook, and at first, it doesn't seem like Mimesis is capable of taking advantage of it. The undead fail to exude any real menace. The violently shaky camerawork, the Zack Snyder-esque framerate relentlessly speeding up and slowing down, the image falling in and out of focus...it's meant to be stylish but winds up feeling overused and intrusive. Especially early on, the camera has a tendency to cut away mid-scare, neutering what could've been some really effective jolts. It doesn't help that the central character is Duane (Allen Maldonado), a walking, talking "...and brothers do it like this!" cliché yanked straight out of a hacky circa-'93 standup routine. I braced myself for the worst.

Once Mimesis really gets underway, though, I was completely sucked in. Duane shifts from an insufferable loudmouth into a credible hero. Mimesis does a pretty remarkable job of posing
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that "...the hell's going on here?" question, keeping the audience every bit as off-balance as its characters. There's clearly some guiding hand behind this real-life Night of the Living Dead routine, but it's not some April Fool's Day-style goof; these ghouls are undeniably tearing off their flesh and slaughtering them one by one. Mimesis can get gruelingly intense, starting with the zombies' siege on the farmhouse. Quite a few of the jump scares hit me when it counts. Mimesis continues to reshape itself rather than comfortably lean on its high-concept premise, and it does so without stomping on everything it had done so well up to that point too. So, yeah, despite its shaky start, I wound up having a blast with Mimesis. Probably better suited for a rental, but I had a good enough time that it still comes Recommended.

Mimesis was shot with the Red One, and...well, it definitely has that Red One look to it, with the low-ish contrast and tinge of softness I'm used to seeing in movies lensed with that particular camera. That kind of works to Mimesis' benefit, though, as does its approach to color. Its understated palette is a perfect match for a movie so heavily inspired by a black-and-white classic, resisting any attempt at saturation outside of its bright, visceral reds. The clean digital photography compresses well enough, and no artificial sharpening or heavy-handed noise reduction ever get in the way. The only glaring flaws are bursts of excessive stair-stepping and distracting moire effects. If you want an example, take a look at the zombie's coat in this screenshot. At least it's not a constant nuisance, and the worst of it seems to happen fairly early on.

If you want me to rattle off the rest of the technical details...? Single layer Blu-ray disc. Matted to
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an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Encoded with AVC.

Mimesis boasts a robust 24-bit Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. Its sound effects and wonderfully eerie score are rendered with remarkable clarity; I mean, you could stroll into the room with your hands cupped over your eyes and instantly tell that this is a shiny new Blu-ray disc being spun. The sound design seizes hold of every channel at its disposal. The music is reinforced with pounding, punishing bass, and so much attention has been lavished on the specific placement of discrete sounds that Mimesis was clearly mixed with 5.1 rigs in mind. The recording of the dialogue is a bit of a letdown, though. It's noticeably less clean and clear than any other element in the mix, some line readings sound distant and hollow, and more loudly shouted stretches suffer from moderate clipping. That dings the score down a little, but this is otherwise a very solid showing.

The only other audio options are a commentary track an' subtitles in English (SDH) and Spanish.

  • Audio Commentary: The lone extra on Mimesis is a commentary track with director/co-writer Douglas Schulze and co-writer Joshua Wagner. It's a pretty terrific and very comprehensive discussion, tackling the structure of the movie, careful consideration about what to reveal and when, the creature design, working within the constraints of the time and budget they had on-hand, and quite a few technical details about the photography. There are also highlights like running through some of the other titles that were considered, noting one nasty accident that ended with a slashed wrist, and pointing
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    out Courtney Gains' small role...y'know, Malachai from Children of the Corn! Worth a listen. The commentary's hidden under the 'Setup' menu rather than listed as an extra for whatever reason.

    Although Schulze and Wagner mention a deleted scenes reel, taking care to highlight several specific sequences that were heavily trimmed down or removed outright, none of that footage found its way onto this Blu-ray disc.

The Final Word
Mimesis is an uneven but surprisingly effective homage to one of the most enduring horror films ever made, and it's a hell of a lot more creative than settling for just another remake. Recommended late night viewing, especially if you can round up a few other frothing-at-the-mouth genre fanatics in front of your TV. Recommended.
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