Calling “Mimic 3: Sentinel” the third installment in the “Mimic” franchise is a bit of a cheat. It’s really nothing more than a 70-minute detour that offers nothing to the series besides taking up space and precious production money better spent elsewhere. Apparently the events of “Mimic 2” have gone ignored, and instead of following-up on how the first sequel ended — with a woman cornered in her apartment by a mimic creature — “Sentinel” moves the action to another apartment complex altogether. And apparently there is no longer just one lone surviving mimic, there are, according to one character toward the end, “thousands” of them underground, and the city is now nothing more than a “killing jar”.
Of course that last sentence sounds better than “Sentinel” actually is. Despite looking polish and slick, “Sentinel” is grossly unsatisfying. It doesn’t help that most of the film takes place in the bedroom of hypochondriac Marvin (Karl Geary), who was one of survivors of the Judas Breed years ago. Now allergic to just about everything, including courage and common sense, Marvin spends all his time in his bedroom snapping pictures of residents in an apartment building across from his. One of those residents is the attractive Carmen (Rebecca Mader), who must really like weak and perverted guys, because she’s immediately smitten with Marvin when they first meet. Go figure.
Trouble arises when Marvin, in “Rear Window” fashion, believes he saw the local drug dealer become a victim of someone Marvin has nicknamed the Garbageman (Lance Henriksen). He’s wrong, because as it turns out the Garbageman is a scientist (albeit a very crass and gun-packing one) investigating mimic going-ons in the area. After the initial possible murder sighting, Marvin calls the police, but unfortunately for Marvin’s credibility the Detective they sent over knows about Marvin’s history of reporting on perceived mimic activity. Marvin, you see, is a tad obsessed with the creatures. And anyway, the Detective is more concern with nailing Marvin’s loopy and horny mom (Amanda Plummer) than doing his job.
Running at a scant 70 minutes not counting final credits, “Sentinel” has so little to offer it’s a mystery why it was greenlit in the first place. The film is simply not very interesting, and the mimics are now completely CGI. But apparently the budget for the CGI has been slashed mightily, because what little (and I do stress little) we see of the mimic creatures are so underwhelming and so obviously fake that the creatures themselves are no longer frightening or mysterious, but just pathetic. The film features one major attack sequence toward the end which takes up the film’s final 15 minutes, but it’s so lackluster that, like the rest of the movie, leaves the viewer wondering what was the point of it all.
If the makers of “Sentinel” had intended this dull installment to kill off the franchise for good, then they’ve done their job. Compared to the previous effort, which was equally short but much more effective in terms of style and pure entertainment value, “Sentinel” simply astounds with its disinterest in offering anything worthwhile. Writer/director J.T. Petty doesn’t endear himself to the viewer with some weak characters. Lead Karl Geary is appropriately paranoid, neurotic, and frail looking, but Bart Simpson was more worthy of attention in this familiar “Rear Window” role. Also, for someone obsessed with capturing mimic activity on his ever-present camera, Marvin conveniently never snaps any pictures when the mimics do show up in his camera sights.
The biggest mistake I can find with “Sentinel” and, to a lesser extent “Mimic 2”, is the attempt to turn the franchise into another silly Teen Slasher series. The mimics were never supposed to be Jason minus the hockey mask; they were indiscriminate killing machines, only concern with building their nest and overwhelming the human populace that they wish to use for food. So when bodies start dropping around this apartment complex, no one seems especially perturbed. A boy goes missing, a man is seen bathed in blood and then disappears, and the residents of an entire apartment gets massacred. Since when did the mimic creatures go about their killing spree like a serial killer, cleverly covering their tracks? They’re giant cockroaches with claws!
“Sentinel” is just not a very good movie. As a direct-to-video sequel to a moderately successful sci-fi series, nothing about this installment seems worthwhile. Who greenlit this movie? Who saw J.T. Petty’s script and thought, “Wow, this must be made”? It’s incredible that, with all the myriad possibilities out, they chose this weak and whimpering direction. It’s as if they want to bury the franchise.
As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for…
J.T. Petty (director) / Donald A. Wollheim (short story), J.T. Petty (screenplay)
CAST: Alexis Dziena …. Rosy
Karl Geary …. Marvin
Lance Henriksen …. Garbage Man
John Kapelos …. Gary Dumars
Rebecca Mader …. Carmen