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February 26, 2013

Movie Review: Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead (2012, DVD)

Review By: Rob Sibley

“Mimesis: Night of the living dead” isn't your typical zombie picture. I had no knowledge of the film before watching it. It's rare that I go into a film completely blind, with only the cover art as reference before hand.

By the title and the cover art I shrugged and thought “Great another low budget film using Romero's Night of the Living Dead in its title”. Of course since Romero and crew never copyrighted their 1968 classic, it's fallen into the public domain. So, for many years we've had filmmakers use the title and make sorry excuses of films. Looking strictly to make a profit off of someone's much greater work. The title has been a cash cow for countless productions. Luring zombie fans in with the false sense of hope that “Hey this can't be that bad!”. Sadly most of those films baring the NOTLD title are dreck, cinematic trash that should be forgotten about. Surprisingly though... Mimesis: Night of the living dead actually justifies using Romero's title and not only that. But it's a loving homage and smart satire on the zombie genre.

The film starts out typical enough, a farmer is setting up a scare crow. When he catches something out of the corner of his eye. What looks to be a zombie, he looks away and looks back and it's gone. He finishes up his daily business. Walks into his farm house to discover Night of the living dead playing on the TV. He calls out for his wife who doesn't respond, he grabs a knife and makes his way up the steps. To find his wife, dead in bed and currently having her guts munched on by nasty beast. Cue the opening credits.

The opening though solid still had me thinking “Oh great, another replica of Romero's original”. But after the opening credits the film really sets into motion. With the great Sid Haig sitting at a panel at a horror convention discussing the age old question “Do horror films cause people to act violent”. I've always found it to be an interesting question. One that I strongly disagree with. Films don't make people violent, if someone is going to cause harm to another being and they are a tad disturbed. They will find influence from a novel, a film, a comic book, hell maybe even a painting. Then the form of art gets blamed and said piece of art is crucified by the public for causing violent behavior.

All of this plays a part in the film itself. It's a smart, self aware film. It's clever but never too much for it's own good. It plays with your expectations and it has a fun time doing so. Sure there is plenty of social commentary if you want it. But on the surface level you get a clever zombie flick that understands what the word “Homage” really means. This film is kind of the Scream of zombie films.

The films central characters are Russell (Taylor Piedmonte) and Duane (Allen Maldonado). Russel is a die hard horror fan, Russel on the other hand? Not so much, he's more interested in picking up chicks then flicks. His fantasy comes true when Goth cutie Judith (Lauren Mae Shafer) invites them to a post horror con party.

Everything is going well enough until Russel & Duane pass out. They wake up next morning to find themselves actually living out Romero's NOTLD. All of the party guests have been dressed like the characters from the original film and even the locations are spot on. Just like the Romero film there are a group of people outside ready and willing to tear them all to shreds.

What makes the film interesting is the inherit mystery. Are the people outside the house actually zombies or are they just a bunch of loons pretending to be ones? To say anymore would spoil the fun twists and turns.

The true standout performance comes from Lauren Mae Shafer. A character who at first seems like the typical token goth gal but who becomes something much more human by the end of the picture. 

That's another joy of the picture, it's not afraid to set up stereotypes then break them. In process turning 2-D characters into full three dimensional human beings.

Anchor Bay brings Mimesis to DVD in a great looking anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. For a film that only cost 500K it looks very impressive. Blacks are deep and the contrast is spot on. The DVD looks utterly fantastic so I imagine the blu-ray will look even more impressive.

Extras consist of a sole audio commentary featuring Director/co-writer Dougless Schulze & Co-Writer Joshua Wagner. It's a fun track and it's obvious that both of these folks are rightfully proud of the film.

Mimesis: Night of the living dead isn't your typical zombie film and that's a great thing. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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