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KIDS ON FILM

'Mimic's' Villains Bug Young Kids but Wow Teens

September 04, 1997|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

ORANGE — In "Mimic," super-roaches made in the lab mutate into almost indestructible man-eating monsters living in New York City's subway system. A scientist (played by Mira Sorvino) must join with a few other unlikely heroes in an attempt to destroy the beasts. (Rated R).

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Not long into "Mimic," 8-year-old Toby Hooper began crying quietly during a particularly gory scene. He was immediately escorted out of the movie and into the lobby, where his mother calmed him down with some soothing words and a large soft drink.

For his part, Toby said what he saw was just too creepy to take. The movie is merciless in creating a foreboding mood, from the dark, dank cinematography to the brooding music score. And don't forget the monsters: With their flapping, metallic wings and ability to look like humans, they can be terrifying.

"They scared me. Bad," the Orange youth explained.

What finally pushed him to tears was a scene in which the giant insects pounce on two children. Later in the movie, another child is terrorized by the bugs, but Toby wasn't around for that.

Sallie McClelland, 9, also from Orange, said she was unnerved by "Mimic," although she stuck it out to the end, sitting alongside her 16-year-old brother, Mike. When asked what she thought of the film, Sallie gave a nervous look that made it obvious it wasn't her idea of fun. "I hated them," Sallie said of the insects that wreak havoc. "They were ugly."

"I think they made her sick," Mike added helpfully.

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What disturbs a child can wow a teenager, as "Mimic" proves.

Many teenagers raved about "Mimic," calling it a great horror film, full of suspense and frightening surprises. They loved how the film's creators kept them guessing about what was lurking around one dark corner after another, and they found the special effects believable.

"That was so rad, the way it was made," Steve Wright, 15, of Anaheim, said of the movie monsters. "When it opened its wings and attacked her, I was cranked." The scene is among many vivid--and frightening--passages in "Mimic." In one, Mira Sorvino finds herself alone on a subway platform, unaware she's being stalked. The audience shrieks when the insect finally attacks, wings flapping.

Another chilling moment that stuck with teens came near the end of the film, when Sorvino's scientist husband stumbles into the insects' hive and is surrounded by dozens of them.

"God, I didn't know if he'd get out of there or not!" said Elizabeth Earnest, 16, of Santa Ana. "They were, like, closing in on him so fast. . . .Ugh!"

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Parent Perspective: With an R rating and reviews that have described how scary and violent this horror flick is, it's a wonder any parent would bring a young child to see it. Caroline Hooper said she realizes she made a mistake when she gave in to Toby's request.

"I blew it and could kick myself," Hooper said. "He kept begging me to go, and I gave in . . . I just didn't think it would be this intense."

No matter how much pleading or cajoling, "Mimic" is clearly unsuitable for anyone younger than the early teens--and even a bit older.

"It's definitely too terrifying for someone young," said Fred Chin, a grandfather from Orange, as he left the screening. "I'm not sure I'd bring my son to it"--and he's 39. Another mother, Sondra Durazo of Anaheim, agreed.

"There are enough movies for the family to go to; it doesn't make sense to haul them to something like this," she said. "[Parents] just have to be more careful. . . . Kids can get terrible nightmares from things like this."

* FAMILY FILMGOER, Page 15

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