Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mimesis and Reliving a Horror Classic: A Movie Review

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*there are spoilers here.

Director: Douglas Schulze.

Writers: Douglas Schulze and Joshua Wagner.

Cast: Allen Maldonado, Sid Haig, Lauren Mae Shafer, Courtney Gains, Taylor Piedmonte, David G.B. Brown, Jana Thompson, and Gavin Grazer.

Douglas Schulze's (Hellmaster) latest horror feature is titled Mimesis. Mimesis simply means imitation. In this film, Mimesis is defined as life imitating art. Schulze manages to introduce a social message amongst all of the cannibalism, eye gougings and pitchfork murders. This message involves media and its portrayal of violence and its relation to real life violence. This message is certainly relevant now, but Mimesis is also an entertaining outing. The film is clever and the conflict is well written and well disguised.

The film's story initially follows Duane (Allen Maldonado) and Russell (Taylor Piedmonte). These two are friends and they head off to a horror convention. Here, they meet the raccoon eyed Judith (Lauren Mae Shafer), who knows of a secret party. Duane and Russell head off to the isolated gathering, lured by Judith's charms. They later find themselves drugged. A GHB cocktail knocks the guys out, until the next morning. Now, they are living as part of a film, specifically Night of the Living Dead. No one is expected to survive this reenactment. The next two acts are devoted to several characters trying to outlive the credits in a real life horror movie.

So, the film begins almost as a remake of George A. Romero's film, Night of the Living Dead. The characters each have their role and several sociopaths are there to play their roles, as well. The victims are chased by zombies, similar to Romero's film. However, this is not a scene for scene rehash of the 1968 film.

Schulze has a message to offer about art and violence. The characters have choices. The antagonists choose to act as sadists, while the others are simply defending themselves. As well, the character Alfonso (Sid Haig) also has something to say about horror films and violence. One does not cause the other. Schulze's message is simple; it is the psychologically disturbed who act out on violence. Media does not play a role in the instigation of such mayhem. And, this critic would agree with this statement. Violence is perpetrated by vile and violent people, or the mentally disturbed. A horror film cannot instigate someone to act violently. In fact, it might be the opposite. Horror films or violent video games could be cathartic, on some level.

This social message is deliverd with some competent filmmaking. The usual shaky camera is here, but Schulze also offers some interesting and well shot night photography. The music from composer Diego Navarro is evocative. Much of the soundtrack is, thankfully, lively. Also, the characters are interesting and the plot is unique. Few films have tried to mimic others in such a compelling way.

There are a few critiques to made, though. The sound man makes an appearance in the background at the eighteen minute mark. Sound men are best left off screen. As well, one of the performers tries to oversell their reactions. Sometimes, less is more. And, one villain is a little over-confident. At the midway mark, a petite zombie antagonist enters the cellar to take on four protagonists. Is this realistic? No, the actions in this scene are unbelievable, but this scene does set up future gory interactions. These detriments are minor and the film is entertaining, overall.

Mimesis will be releasing February 12th on home video formats and horror fans will find a unique story in Schulze's latest. This is also one of the few horror movies that this critic has seen that attempts to offer a social message. This message is realistic and relevant. Mimesis is also entertaining. And, fans of Romero will likely enjoy this homage to his earlier work, which is given a modern voice in this title.

Overall: 7.75 out of 10 (interesting writing, a good social message, lots of action, tonnes of gore, a few surprises and reveals).

*rated R for violence and language.

**a Mimesis 2 is already in the works.

The film's fan page is here:

Mimesis on Facebook

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