It’s not unusual to watch a film and be reminded of other films that may have– or obviously have– influenced it. However, to be reminded of an influence and to actually watch a film where that influence is actively woven into the fabric of the new film is rare. One of the reasons for this is that any majorly influential film is bound to be better than most of the films it influences, so it follows that if a movie is going to wear that influence on its metaphorical sleeve (or, more accurately, on a brightly-colored t-shirt with a huge logo), the audience is going to be reminded that they could be spending this same amount of time rewatching a better film. Mimesis is a textbook example of this phenomenon.
A group of seven fans from a horror convention are invited to a remote farmhouse for a party. The next day, they all wake up in different clothes and scattered in various locations. After nerdy Russell (Taylor Piedmonte) and abrasive blonde Karen (Jana Thompson) are attacked by a zombie in a graveyard, Karen finds her way back to the farmhouse where Russell’s friend Duane (Allen Maldonado) wakes up in a pickup truck. When they meet up with the others, it quickly becomes apparent to hardcore horror fan Keith (David G.B. Brown) what is happening: they are all dressed as characters from Night of the Living Dead, trapped in a farmhouse exactly like the one from the film, surrounded by shambling zombies.
The predicament is driven home by the fact that the television in the house periodically shows Night of the Living Dead either to echo what is happening in the house or to taunt the characters as tensions mount and nerves fray. Despite all the characters presumably being horror fans, only Keith has actually seen Night of the Living Dead, so several of the characters stumble blindly into unpleasant ends that could have been easily avoided if they had seen the film. Keith becomes a de facto leader of the group of survivors, intent on discovering who has put them all in this situation, and whether it’s really happening or if things are not quite what they seem.
The biggest persistent problem with Mimesis is the fact that it continually reminds the viewer that they could just be watching Night of the Living Dead again. There’s nothing really much interesting or unique going on here, and when the mystery behind what is really going on is revealed, it’s almost embarrassingly anticlimactic. There are some nice practical effects in the film, and the production values are solid. The trouble with Mimesis isn’t that it fails where other independent horror films typically trip themselves up (bad effects, acting, etc.), it’s that it just isn’t anywhere nearly as good as the film to which it spends its entire running time paying tribute.
Anchor Bay released Mimesis on DVD and Blu-ray on 5 February 2013. The disc includes a commentary track by director Douglas Schulze and co-writer Joshua Wagner.