Resident Evil Films and Show: A Consideration

From the beginning, Resident Evil has been a B-Movie horror film come to life. The PlayStation 1 gave players the chance to run into rooms of unknown horrors after years of saying that they wouldn’t act irrationally in a horror movie.

Unlike most games prior to this, neither Chris nor Jill was a nigh unkillable action hero. They had police and special teams training, but a zombie outbreak at a cryptic mansion was something else entirely. If this was one of your first horror games, there is no doubt that the dogs jumping through the window is a fun, terrifying memory forever burned into your brain. The game was full of moments like this, puzzles and grotesque monsters right out of B-Movie horror. 

The opening cutscene from Resident Evil

The game was such a massive hit that a sequel was quickly green-lit. Most of a game was built before being scrapped because it wasn’t considered good enough. What is now called Resident Evil 1.5 is downloadable, but requires some section loading commands, because the final connections, transitions and story were never created. I wouldn’t be surprised if fans made it a full game some day. Resident Evil 2 did release in 1998. It takes place in an art museum that was converted into a police station. 

Resident Evil 2 has two new characters in Claire (the younger sister of Chris from the first game) and rookie cop Leon. At the beginning of the game, you chose who to play as. They each have story segments exclusive to themselves and after beating the game with one of them, you unlock the B campaign for the other character. One addition to the B campaigns is a loose Tyrant monster lovingly named Mr. X by fans. This tyrant appears suddenly and without warning, then mercilessly chases down Leon or Claire for the rest of the game. There are also more unlockables and secrets to find during the B campaigns. This game was the sequel that improved upon the original in basically every way. 

The following year, we got Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Jill, from the first Resident Evil, was back as the only playable character. This game was imitating a slasher film with the unkillable Nemesis monster chasing you. The story also takes place at the same time as the events of Resident Evil 2. While not as well received as the second game, years later Resident Evil 3 would get a big resurgence thanks to speed running. The game is filled with loads of RNG (random number generation). This makes every playthrough exciting to watch. You may be aware of the possibilities around the next corner, but not what they become. 

The Nemesis monster approaching Jill in Resident Evil 3

Finally, in 2000 Resident Evil: Code Veronica launched on the Dreamcast. This game once again starred Claire. Let’s be honest, the women in this franchise are the most interesting characters. It takes place three months after the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3. However, it continued to show a decline in return. 

The Alice Movies

The next big Resident Evil game wouldn’t appear until 2005 in the form of Resident Evil 4. However, in 2002, we saw the release of a movie named Resident Evil. I absolutely loved this movie. I spent weeks trying to perfect my imitation of the Red Queen, saying, “You’re all going to die down here.” 

The Resident Evil film contained original characters and new plots but definitely brought the series full circle. They had now turned Resident Evil into a B-level horror movie. This movie grossed over $100 million on a $33 million budget. It launched a six film franchise that made over $1.2 billion. I like five of them. They’re fun and interesting.

Milla Jovovich as Alice in the Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil movies

Now, there’s a saying that I absolutely love, “Nobody hates something as much as it’s fans.” 

The loudest fans of the video games decried these movies. They say the stories are too different from the games. The film’s main character, Alice, is not one of the heroes they had played as. To them, the movies are not Resident Evil. Despite their outcry, people kept showing up to the theaters in spades. To be honest, the games have little story to adapt into a movie that makes sense. I think making original movies was the right idea.

Welcome to Raccoon City (Spoiler Alert)

During years of “fans” bemoaning the films, Resident Evil games continued to release, including mainline titles, spin-offs and remakes. These games had varying success. With the release of Resident Evil: VILLAGE (the eighth mainline entry) in May 2021, the franchise contained 28 games. Later that year, the movie Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City dropped a meaningful trailer. We saw sets that were dang near perfect recreations of the mansion, police station, orphanage and parking garage from the Resident Evil 1 & 2 remakes. These two remakes were games everyone seemed to love. 

We saw an amazing recreation of the first zombie scene from the franchise. We saw a great-looking licker monster. We saw “Itchy Tasty” scrawled in blood. Coming out of that trailer, I was floored. I knew this was going to be a B-level horror film, and I was pretty sure I was going to love it.

Avan Jogia and Kaya Scodelario as Leon and Claire in Welcome to Raccoon City

However, continuing the tired trend, so-called fans bemoaned the actors not looking exactly like the characters from the games. Hannah John-Kamen, who did a fantastic job playing Jill, wasn’t good enough for certain people because she was half-black. Avan Jogia, who nailed what it must have felt like for rookie-cop Leon to have their first day on the job be during a zombie outbreak, wasn’t good enough for certain people because he wasn’t blond and white.

 These complaints are ridiculous. The color of their hair or skin defines NOTHING about the characters in Resident Evil, except maybe Oswell Spencer, the founder of the evil Umbrella Corporation!

Welcome to Raccoon City was released, and we got quite the mashup of stories from Resident Evil 1, 2, and 3 all together. This was definitely necessary given the starting material. We got Lisa Trevor as a solid character. Donal Logue gave a brilliant performance as a Chief Irons who wasn’t a complete piece of crap. That guy is great in everything. Tom Hopper played an Albert Wesker with actual human characteristics and not a one dimensional, power-hungry psychopath. Neal McDonough brought William Birkin to life! I enjoyed this movie for what it was. A fun fan-service romp. I bought it when it came out on disc and digital and continue to enjoy it. 

The Netflix Series (Spoiler Alert)

Which brings us to the Netflix series of 2022. Leading up to it, what did I constantly hear on the internet? Albert Wesker isn’t black. The entire criticism I saw was about the fantastic Lance Reddick playing Wesker. Not about his performance, but his race. Again, nothing about Wesker requires him to be a white dude. So dumb. 

The show starts with Wesker and his two daughters moving to New Raccoon City in South Africa. It’s the year 2022 and Umbrella has covered up the original Raccoon City incident. It moves differently than the games or movies, and I will admit, slowly at times, but it builds a story. It flashes between the years 2022 and 2036. In 2022, we see a modern city with no signs of zombies. In 2036, we are fully in a zombie apocalypse. While the first six episodes contain interesting parts, episode 7 is where the show ramps into high gear and begins dropping fan service.

Lance Reddick as Albert Wesker in the Netflix Resident Evil series

We get a flashback scene of Albert Wesker with his powers from Resident Evil 5. He cloned himself thrice and aged the clones up to adulthood in six months. Umbrella announces Wesker is using funds inappropriately and sends soldiers after him. With his full Resident Evil 5 powers, Wesker kicks their butts and escapes. Umbrella captures one Wesker clone named Bert. Another clone named Al escapes or perhaps strikes a deal to work for Umbrella. Later, we learn that the real Wesker died in a volcano, just like in the game! We also learn that the clone named Al is our main character and scienced his daughters into being a blood cure for his rapidly aging cells. The show only escalates from there, even adding the giant alligator from Resident Evil 2

I enjoy the Netflix show, and I hope we see a second season. There are many possibilities for where the story can go in the future. However, we are still left with the question, What do ‘fans’ of Resident Evil actually want from movies or shows? From what I can tell, they want the games recreated. This reminds me of a quote from Futurama, “Audiences don’t want anything original. They wanna see the same thing they’ve seen a thousand times before.” 

A perfect game to film adaption of Resident Evil would be reminiscent of a high school play. The story is basic. Can you imagine a movie where Jill runs around collecting items to solve puzzles? Nobody wants to see this. People just want to complain, which is unfortunate. Life is a lot more enjoyable when you allow yourself to enjoy things instead of picking them apart because they’re different from something we already have.

Ben is the creator and host of the Dragoon Effect, an audio-only lets play podcast.
Email: dragooneffect@gmail.con | Twitter | Instagram

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