9:22 PM | Anchor Bay Films, Memesis: Night of the Living Dead, Reviews with 0 comments »
As a writer, Grammar Nazi, and lover of all things linguistic, I ‘m thrilled when a movie expands my vocabulary. I had never heard the word Mimesis before. When I interviewed Sid Haig at a convention last year, he told me about this film. I thought he just pronouncing Nemesis strangely, so I told myself I’d look it up later and promptly forgot all about it. Then the movie comes out, and low and behold, it was called Mimesis after all. It means imitation. I would assume it comes from the Greek root mimos, meaning imitator or actor. It’s the same root we get mimic, mimeograph, and even mime from. It pertains specifically to life imitating art and vice versa, referring to the notion that…oh, wait. Sorry about that. I went off on a language geek tangent. You don’t want to hear about etymology. You wanna hear about horror flicks. My bad.
Synopsis: A group of horror fans find themselves unwilling participants in a nightmarish role playing game that pays homage to a classic horror film. Seven complete strangers whose only common link is a love for classic era horror films are invited to attend an exclusive 'horror fan' party at a remote farm. But as the sun sets, these strangers soon find themselves living a real life version of the cult horror classic, Night of the Living Dead. The strangers all bare a striking resemblance to the cast members from the Romero classic and waiting just outside the boarded up farmhouses, a group of demented sociopaths eager to 'mimic' the flesh eating zombies. Why watch a horror film when you can live one?
Mimesis: Night Of The Living Dead has an outstanding concept. A couple of dudes go to a horror con, get invited to an after party, get drugged, and somehow wake up as characters in Night of the Living Dead. You, sir, have my attention. Night of the Living Dead is my favorite flick of all time, and it’s cool to see someone give it a proper homage. Note to filmmakers: homage and remake are NOT synonyms. THIS is an homage. If you’ve got as many bloody miles on your horrodometer as the ol’ Son of Celluloid does, you’ll start peeling back the layers of what’s really going on long before it’s actually revealed, but in this case that’s not a bad thing. This setup just gets more interesting and more nuanced the more you know, which is completely backwards from most flicks. I really wish I could discuss just how good the actual story is further, but it would be impossible to do without spoilers. Just know that it’s one of the smartest horror flicks I’ve seen in a while.
The acting ranges from pretty good to cringe worthy. The veterans deliver as expected. Sid Haig is good, even if he does seem a little uninspired. Courtney Gaines, aka Malachai from Children of the Corn, gives us a couple of fun moments. It was also nice to see Bill Hinzman in what, to the best of my knowledge, was his last screen appearance. For the record, all of these actors had small cameo roles. They do not star in the film, as the advertising would have you believe. The young main cast is game and tries to carry the flick, but only succeed some of the time. Allen Maldonado isn’t bad as the lead. He just felt very “generic leading man.” That also might have something to do with the fact that his character is generally unlikable. The “bad guys” give the best performances. Jana Thompson overacted and David Brown was wooden. Overall, the acting is pretty average, which is better than a lot of what you see in a flick at this budget level. With such a great story, I can forgive so-so acting.
What I cannot forgive is the visual sucktitude of this movie. Don’t get me wrong; the actual picture quality produced by the RED cameras is phenomenal. The filmmakers just wield after effects like a kid who just got a new box of crayons and isn’t going to be satisfied until they use every single one whether the picture needs it or not. The slow/fast motion is the biggest offender. They keep speeding up and slowing down shots for a few seconds before they abruptly return to real time. If it only happened during action sequences, I could chalk it up to being just another Zach Snyder rip off. Nope, it’s at seemingly random intervals. It happens in scenes of someone walking across the room. Someone just starts doing the “walking away from an explosion all cool like” action flick walk for no reason whatsoever. They don’t do it once or twice either. It happens over and over and over, and it is oh so lame. In the commentary, the director said that it was done so people didn’t think they were watching a remake and knew that this was a modern movie. I’m not even going into the ludicrousness of that statement. In case the time warp didn’t tell you that this was a “modern movie,” maybe you would be tipped off by that bane of modern horror movies; shaky cam. Every time it gets violent, we get camera spasms. You know what we don’t get? A good look at the action. They also keep doing this weird lens flare/fake double exposure thing. I don’t know if I should blame the director, the post-production crew, the DP, or everyone involved; but someone did their damnedest to make an otherwise good movie unwatchable.
Random Thought #1: There was a respectable amount of gore, both practical and CGI. The practical effects looked really good. The CGI looked awful. There’s a lesson to be learned there.
Random Thought #2: What the hell was up with the pitchfork wielding My Chemical Romance looking guy in the barn? He didn’t fit into the story at all.
Random Thought #3: Mimesis contains the worst day for night shot I’ve seen since Shark Night. Hell, maybe even since Scars of Dracula.
Random Thought #4: NOTLD fans are gonna have a good time playing spot the reference. I know I did.
Basically, this is a movie that was plotted brilliantly, acted decently, and shot terribly. I know a lot of people don’t have my aversion to all of the new school pretentious post production “I don’t care if it fits the movie, look what I can do” crap. You folks are the lucky ones. You can just enjoy the great story without yelling at the cameraman.
Mimesis 2 is currently in production, this time based around Nosferatu. I’m down with that. This concept could lend itself to a cool new franchise, with each film paying tribute to different classic fright flick. I’m interested to see where they go with it…but for the love of Max Schreck lay the hell off of the garish visual flourishes and let that killer story speak for itself.. Sometimes less is more fellas. 6 out of 10. Nathan says check it out.