Why watch a horror film when you can live one? For over a century, fans have had their blood curdled and spines chilled by the vicarious thrills of horror films. Whether populated by ghouls, slashers, zombies or vampires, fans flocked to have their pulse quickened and exercise their scream-generating skills. But one thing remained constant: Eventually the story ended because it was only a movie. What if it didn’t have to end? What if the next level of horror was to experience a horror film from the inside?
Sometimes a film sneaks up on you, and it goes from bring something that you didn’t really keep much track of at first, to something you find yourself thinking about long after you watch it. Films like that usually stand the test of time and go down as solid movies to horror fans. Douglas Schulze’s MIMESIS is definitely one of those films. It keeps you entertained the whole time and stays with you after it’s over.
The film follows Russell and Duane, two friends who attend a horror convention. While Russell is a horror fanatic through and through, Duane doesn’t get the appeal of not only the films but the lifestyle that a lot of horror fans live (i.e.-the fandom at conventions, attending panels to hear your favorite filmmaker speak, etc). They’re soon invited, by another convention goer, to an “invite only” party and everything seems to be going great. That is until they, along with a few others, wake up suddenly in what seems to be NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Russell wakes up in a cemetery, dressed like NOTLD’s Johnny, next to Judith (one of the party goers) who is wearing the clothes of the Barbara character. If you’re familiar with NOTLD, which you obviously are, you know things probably won’t go well for Russell..and they don’t. Eventually, Judith makes it to Duane, who at this point, we realize that he’s NOTLD’s Ben character. The film works like that at first. The duo come across a family that resembles the family in Romero’s film, fight off zombies, and so on.
While this could have easily taken the completely non-original and cheesy as hell route, what Schulze does, is completely knock us for a loop by some pretty interesting twists. While I was initially kind of turned off by how painted the zombies looked at first, it all came together when one of the big reveals happen. I am definitely going into some SPOILER TERRITORYhere, so if you don’t want to know, then feel free to come back to this after seeing the film. You’ve been warned.
We find out that what was painted looking zombies to me, are really painted horror fans, and that there aren’t zombies whatsoever in this film, but instead the killers are fanatics who worship horror films to the point of wanting to emulate them. It catches you off guard so much when it’s revealed and adds such a sad intensity to the film. You’re now left thinking about how numb you were when Russell died because of how used to the zombie violence you can get, and you begin to think about how terrifying it is that the guy had his throat bitten out by a human being. The twist begins a really well done social commentary on how extreme people can get with wanting more and more, to the point of extremism not being enough. While the first quarter of the film was just fun and zombie games, whenMIMESIS switches gears, it becomes a really well done study on fanaticism and how far people will go to get to that next extreme step, without venturing into preachy territory.
While the movie isn’t perfect (the slow motion to fast motion editing that seems to be flowing through a lot of over-stylized films these days happens a good amount in it), the small things wrong with it are quickly overshadowed by the many things that Schulze did right on it. While being a smaller budget indie movie, it looks just as good as a bigger budgeted film, the cinematography looks beautiful, and the coloring is gorgeous. If this is what he can do with a smaller budgeted film, I’m pretty anxious to see what Schulze would accomplish with a larger studio film, the guy definitely has chops.
MIMESIS comes out on BLURAY/DVD via ANCHOR BAY on FEBRUARY 12th.