Reel Toronto: Mimic
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Reel Toronto: Mimic

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
It would be hard to make a serious movie about human-sized cockroaches on a murder spree that has nothing cool about it. And yet Mimic is precisely the sort of noble failure that could not have been shot anywhere but Toronto, despite being set in New York.
Just look at the wasted Oscar-calibre talent on display here: F. Murray Abraham! Mira Sorvino! Guillermo Del Toro! Aye, there’s the rub. This one of Del Toro’s early films, before he got all respectable, and he didn’t have the power to make quite the film he wanted. That’s why Mimic starts off pretty good and ends off pretty, well, not so good.

The opening scene is in what looks like a cool, futuristic hospital, but it’s actually the not-so-new Harris Filtration Plant.
This academic library-looking place, however, does have some history; it’s the Great Library at Osgoode Hall, which we’ve also seen in flicks like The Time Traveler’s Wife.
This is the sort of flick that requires gothic academic locations, so they used the always popular quad…
…and interiors of Knox College. We’ve seen it before in Cocktail, Harold and Kumar, and The Incredible Hulk, among others.
This picturesque library was shot across campus at Wycliffe College, which is similarly endowed, architecture-wise.
If you’re watching a movie with a white-tiled New York subway, you’ll always be safe placing your bets on it actually being Lower Bay. That’s certainly the case with this faux Delancey Street station.
You can even see a TTC train zipping through here.
This one is actually cool. What looks like a water processing plant is actually the old Wellington Destructor. Nah, it’s not a new Transformer, it’s just an incinerator, built in 1925 and—not entirely surprisingly—a bit of a fave for urban explorers.
The building is on the city’s inventory of heritage buildings, and while Liberty Village has grown up around it it, it’s still there, as far as we know. It’s tucked away on Wellington Street, in a city transportation yard.
There are some amazing pictures of it compiled here, as part of a Heritage Toronto project.
They apparently also shot stuff at the Royal Ontario Museum, Queen’s Park and the ol’ Distillery District, but we suspect those scenes were filmed in either similar—but different—locations or simply absent, thanks to the film mutating from what Del Toro envisioned. Take heart Mimic die-hards, he says a proper director’s cut is forthcoming.