September 01, 1997 12:00 PM

Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam

Just as some of us don’t let an expanding waistline keep us from reaching for another glazed cinnamon bun, so there comes a scene in every horror film when the lead character, often an imperiled woman, heads straight toward danger rather than away from it. That moment comes in Mimic, a satisfyingly spooky time-waster from Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro (Cronos), when Sorvino, a scientist who already knows there’s trouble abrewing, sees a shadowy figure lurking in a New York City subway station. Foolishly walking toward it, she asks, “Do you have the time?” Buy a watch, babe.

The dark figure is really a giant bug, a mutant form of a new strain that Sorvino had genetically engineered three years earlier and set loose in the city’s subways. She did so with the best of intentions, using her tiny bugs to eradicate cockroaches that were carrying a fatal disease. Now Sorvino, teaming with her doctor hubby (Northam), must do battle with these mutated, man-hungry, winged creatures before they lay waste to the city. Think of The Birds, but dumber and set underground.

Sorvino, a long way here from her Oscar-winning turn in Mighty Aphrodite, has little to do besides look fearful, scream loudly and run like hell. She does well at all three. (R)

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