I have another LANCE HENRIKSEN log to throw on the blogothon fire. Truth be told, this movie involves more of a supporting role for HENRIKSEN but I can’t let the chance of speaking about MIMIC 3: SENTINEL pass me by. I know what you’re thinking, the world of straight-to-DVD sequels, particularly those dispensed by DIMENSION FILMS, is a treacherous one. Why would anyone give this film a chance when even the first film in the series was hobbled by massive studio interference? I don’t know how this happened but somebody actually allowed director/writer J.T. PETTY (SOFT FOR DIGGING, THE BURROWERS) to do his own thing and retain his own voice and the result is a film with strong enough legs to crawl on its own. Many MIMIC fans apparently disagree. The knee jerk desire for “bigger, stronger, faster!” is just too strong to break. For myself though, I can only admire this micro-budgeted, limited setting, psychological thriller with a purposeful pace. It’s as if FRANZ KAFKA did a rewrite of REAR WINDOW.
Obvious action elements are buried in the dust from the start when we are introduced to the sickly and paranoid Marvin Montrose. He’s as twitchy as a bug and actor KARL GEARY’s offbeat idiosyncratic performance may even bring to mind JEFF GOLDBLUM’s work in THE FLY. Marvin is a survivor of the disease mentioned in the first film and it has left him allergic to nearly everything in his environment. Homebound due to his condition, he connects to the outside world through photography, snapping shots at the slices of life he spies from his window. The city hums like a hive all around him but Marvin is trapped in amber, his only consistent contacts being his Mother (AMANDA PLUMMER…score!) and his scamp of a younger sister (ALEXIS DZIENA, have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy 05’s HAVOC?) From his perch, Martin begins to observe suspicious activity in the urban arena that involves giant looming insectoid creatures chomping on passersby and a mysterious “garbage man” portrayed by our man HENRIKSEN. The police are as much as help as ever and Marvin is is forced to confront the beasties with his very limited powers and resources.
SENTINEL takes its time and perhaps I’m a dying breed, but I welcome that. Much like PETTY’s later flick THE BURROWERS, the film holds back on the firework show until the viewer has been properly initiated. When things go down, they go down hard and the aggressiveness is all the more shocking thanks to its previous scarcity. There are a slew of interesting ideas scattering about concerning the act of “seeing” in general. We understand Marvin’s outlook on the world through his photography. Much of what we observe is through his camera and eventually the line between viewer and subject blurs. When Marvin does finally put his camera down, we suddenly find ourselves watching him from afar through a lens as he once watched others. Trust me, there’s more infesting this movie than giant mutant bugs. As much as Martin attempts to look past his situation it seems the shadows from his childhood (the roach/man personifications of his disease) keep knocking at the front door of his shoebox home.
As I said before HENRIKSEN’s role is relatively brief, but he does make a strong impression as usual. Like PLUMMER, it’s always good to see him in anything. As they say, there’s no such thing as a small part…unless of course you count the part of that kid who gets ripped to shreds in the first three minutes of this movie. If you’re looking for spectacle, than feel free to watch one of those cars that turn into robots movies instead. Tell that bumble bee-thingy I said, “Hi.” MIMIC 3: SENTINEL goes against the grain in a way that is refreshing, taking an expansive story and bringing it home and personalizing it. PETTY smartly stays within his means, focuses on characters and setting and presents a story much more insular and involved than anyone would suspect. I mentioned that this film is small but the miraculous thing is that as you watch it keeps getting smaller and smaller until finally the action is taking place in about 3 feet of space. The final confrontation with the menace that takes place from within a refrigerator still makes me flinch and jump and its flashes of absolute blackness allow the mind to reel. Talk about mimicry, this movie is an absolute keeper running around in the shell of a throwaway. Don’t fall for the Camouflage.