Home > Films > M > Mimic

Wednesday May 22nd 2024

Mimic | 1997

Mimic film location: Cloisters, Knox College, St George Street, Toronto
Mimic location: the ‘Museum of Natural History’, where entomologist Dr Susan Tyler studies insect specimens: Cloisters, Knox College, St George Street, Toronto | Photograph: wikimedia / Jphillips23

Genetically modified insects are released into ‘New York’ in an attempt to combat a disease being carried by cockroaches. It’s OK, though, the roaches are sterile…

Guillermo del Toro all but disowned the production after interference by the producer (though a Director’s Cut has since appeared on Blu-Ray), but it’s still a genuinely creepy horror with typically imaginative flourishes.

Apart from the occasional establishing shot of Manhattan, the film was made entirely in Toronto, Ontario.

The opening scene of a strange hospital ward lined with weirdly illuminated beds is the art deco RC Harris Water Treatment Plant, 2701 Queen Street East, east of downtown on the Lake Ontario shore.

Opened in 1941, its striking interior has been a natural for film, including John Carpenter’s Lovecraftian At The Mountains Of Madness, as well as 1998 pothead comedy Half Baked and 2002’s Undercover Brother. Although the facility is still in operation, its grounds are open to the public.

Mimic film location: Great Library, Osgoode Hall, Queen Street West, Toronto
Mimic location: Dr Mann announces the development of the ‘Judas breed’: Great Library, Osgoode Hall, Queen Street West, Toronto | Photograph: wikimedia / Pearl Vas

Dr Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) holds a press conference, triumphantly announcing the development of the ‘Judas roach’, in the Great Library of Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West. Claimed by some to be one of the most beautiful rooms in Canada, with its intricate ceiling, cork floors and triple cube design, the 19th Century library is also seen in The Time Traveller’s Wife. The building’s exterior can be seen as a hospital in Oscar-winning musical Chicago.

The Gothic interior of the ‘Museum of Natural History’, where entomologist Dr Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) is happy to receive insect specimens from the local kids, uses the Cloisters of Knox College, 59 St George Street, on the University of Toronto’s St George Campus. another familiar location seen in films such as Cocktail and Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle (that’s Harold And Kumar Get The Munchies in the UK, where the burger chain is unknown).

Still on campus, a couple of blocks north, the faux-Medieval library, in which Dr Tyler discusses with colleague Dr Gates (F Murray Abraham) the possibility that perhaps not all of the Judas breed remain sterile, is Leonard Hall at theological school Wycliffe College, 5 Hoskin Avenue.

The water treatment plant, where Jeremy (Norman Reedus) proudly displays the body of an enormous mega-bug, is the disused Wellington Destructor, a 1920s rubbish incinerator on Wellington Street West at Walnut Avenue in the Niagara district.

The evolved Judas roaches infest the tunnels of the ‘NY ’ subway system, but ‘Delancey Street Station’, where Dr Tyler ill-advisedly asks the time from a giant predatory insect, is the abandoned Lower Bay platform beneath Bay Station on the Bloor-Danforth line, in Yorkville. Lower Bay was some kind of experiment which was operational for only six months in 1966. It’s not generally open to the public but there have been the occasional open days. But waste not, want not. Disused subway stations are a boon to film production companies, and this one has been used in sci-fi Johnny Mnemonic, with Keanu Reeves, Bulletproof Monk and the 2012 remake of Total Recall, with Colin Farrell.