Lately, mainstream horror has been in the doldrums; studios seemingly appear to only want to remake older films, hoping that name recognition will draw audiences. Recent years have seen films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing and The Wolfman (to name just a few) remade, only to highlight how good the originals really are, and showing that a bit of extra cash and CGI don’t make up for a lack of originality.
Low-budget filmmaker Douglas Schulze’s latest horror effort, Mimesis (meaning imitation) manages to do something new, whilst still riffing on a classic – this time it’s George A. Romero’s 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. Now, Schulze has done something unique: he has taken the original premise and given it a remix (not remade it), while also managing to add some interesting commentary on the ongoing debate on cinematic violence.
Mimesis sees a group of horror fans thrown into a farm house environment, being attacked by flesh-eating zombies, much like the characters in Romero’s film. Each of Schulze’s characters fit the mould of those in Romero’s film, but they have one advantage – they know what happens next.
Schulze knows how to add something new to the horror genre, Hellmaster and The Dark Fields (also known as The Rain) both show a man who has an understanding of the genre, and who wants to add his own spin. With Mimesis, he has taken Night of the Living Dead, a film that has been in the public domain for years, dusted it off and added extra plot – instead of the recent Hollywood trend of merely reducing it.
Horror favourite Sid Haig leads the cast, which is made up of mostly unknowns, although Children of the Corn’s Courtney Gains does have a cameo. However, it’s Haig’s opinionated horror auteur who has the meatiest role, and the best lines (eagle-eyed viewers may note the past films of his character are those of Schulze’s).
Zombies are currently cinema’s “monster du jour”, with a multitude of different zombie projects having hit screens over the last few years, most of them ramping up their speed, removing them even further from the lumbering creatures in Romero’s films. Schulze however shows a genuine affection for the slow-moving zombie and delivers some nice shot-for-shot updates from the original Night of the Living Dead.
Mimesis offers some good practical gore (with a bit of added CGI blood for good measure) and decent frights, despite its limited budget, but more importantly, it doesn’t besmirch the original, instead offering itself up as an interesting companion piece. If I had any complaint, it would be that the film may just sign post some of its plot a bit too far in advance, leaving the final act “twist” something of a disappointment.
Mimesis is an interesting entry into the pantheon of low-budget horror films. The film tips its hat to a classic film, while not tarnishing its memory, which is no easy feat. Schulze has an eye (and an ear) for what makes a good horror movie – and that really needs to be applauded.