Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead Blu-ray Review
After a horror convention, genre devotee Russell (Taylor John Piedmonte) and his friend Duane (Allen Maldonado) find themselves the guests at an “exclusive” party for fellow fans. The next morning, Russell wakes up in a cemetery with a girl, the two dressed exactly like the characters Johnny and Barbra (“They’re coming to get you, Barbra!”) from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. From there, the gang finds themselves holed up in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, not unlike the one in—you guessed it—NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
Like George A. Romero’s zombie essential, MIMESIS: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD offers a horde of flesh-craving undeads and a group of confused civilians who must slay the prey to survive. Most of the characters are all conscious of what is going on. As one bluntly points out, “This is NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.” If he’s so nuts about the movie (and he must be since he knows the pickup truck was red, when the movie itself was black and white), then he must be aware of how to defend the fort, right? Then why are they barricaded there all night?
The whole premise is supposed to be an intentional joke, the kind of self-aware wink that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson employed in the SCREAM movies. But co-writer/director Douglas Schulze (2009’s DARK FIELDS) goes about it all with such a straight face that, in the end, we’re just watching another cliché-ridden genre flick with characters who, for the most part, must have had their brains devoured years ago and so, really, deserve their fates. (Sid Haig’s cameo helps, if only for its brief statement on the public’s perception of the genre.)
It’s a fun idea, though. It asks, How would a horror buff fare if faced with exact scenarios from one of their favorite movies? Could you outrun Leatherface? Can you accept that Jason Voorhees simply cannot be killed? The idea had promise, because it’s the fantasy of so many horror fanatics. (It’s why books like How to Survive a Horror Movie and The Zombie Survival Guide sell well.) It could even spawn off a series, with each entry tackling another horror title in the public domain (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, despite its iconic status, was clearly chosen because of this convenience). There’s Herk Harvey’s B-level CARNIVAL OF SOULS, the William Castle/Vincent Price pairing HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL or the Bela Lugosi headliner WHITE ZOMBIE, to name a few. (Schulze, it turns out, has already shot MIMESIS 2, which finds a different set of buffs living out another royalty-free classic: NOSFERATU).
Despite the inevitable twist, MIMESIS is not as inventive as its director wants it to be, and genre fans get their biggest thrill when they realize that all of the main characters take their names from actors in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (there’s Russell as in Russell Streiner; Duane as in Duane Jones; Judith as in Judith O’Dea). Overall, we get nothing out of the venture other than that Schulze and co-writer Joshua Wagner have seen NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD about three dozen times between them.
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The video transfer of MIMESIS: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD hosts a level of darkness that does less to enhance the atmosphere than it does to hide much of the scenery. The transfer is mostly clean (though not without flaws) during the first half of the movie, but as the rest takes place at night, the muddled look makes it hard to see a lot of the action.
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. In contrast, the audio transfer presents the score and SFX in a way that is effective and enhances the mood of MIMESIS.
Audio commentary with director/co-writer Douglas Schulze and co-writer Joshua Wagner: The duo offer up a fairly strong track, touching on the story, themes and production of MIMESIS: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.