Resident Evil is perhaps one of the most influential horror video games ever made and its commercial impact is undeniable. Fans have become engrossed with the engaging plots, characters and some of the most gruesome images that have plagued our dreams. Boy, do we love these games and all that credit goes to the Japanese video game company Capcom. After six movies were released and grossing over $1 Billion in sales, a reboot was announced that would return to the drawing board. A return to the roots that started the franchise that video game lovers play again and again. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City has finally arrived! But being a reboot, does that make it worth watching?
Before I get started on my review, I have to confess this first. I remember being hyped beyond belief when the live-action adaptation first arrived in 2002. I was so excited and pumped ready to see my favorite characters and hopefully be scared.
Resident Evil couldn’t be farther from the games if it tried any harder. Over the years, a lot of people that I’ve talked to have defended the first film. Personally, it’s my most hated film ever made. I was so distraught and angered by the film that to this day, I have yet to watch any of the sequels. More than likely, I will never do so. With that said, I was excited to see this new rendition and if it could be any good considering a horror director was helming the project. I’m happy to say that I was pleased when leaving the theater. Ok, let’s get to the review.
The movie takes place in 1998 in the heart of Raccoon City. It’s a small town with a big name considering that the Umbrella Corporation is well-known for their pharmaceutical achievements. The town was once booming, or so we hear, but now, the town is practically dead. Umbrella is leaving town, and the townsfolk themselves are either too poor to leave or are just stuck in this small town somewhere in the Midwest of the United States. Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) has returned to this small town to warn her brother, Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), about the inner workings of the Umbrella Corporation.
Chris is a member of the S.T.A.R.S unit (Special Tactics and Rescue Service). Among his group are Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), Richard Aiken (Chad Rook), and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper). Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia) is the rookie of the Raccoon City Police Department, and wouldn’t you know, it’s his first day on the job! The night can barely get underway, when an emergency alert is broadcasted over the town informing the public to stay indoors until everything is declared safe.
Claire and her brother are both from Raccoon City and grew up at the local orphanage. There are plenty of flashbacks revealing that Claire witnessed some really weird things occurring inside the orphanage. After all these years, she has returned to her hometown after listening to a man who believes that the Umbrella Corporation is poisoning the town and has made a bigger problem that they anticipated. That man is named Ben Bertolucci (Josh Cruddas). Chris is unimpressed with Claire’s claims and brushes her off.
The movie kicks into high gear when the townsfolk start acting odd. Their heads are twitching, blood is draining from their eyes and even their hair is falling off their heads! After a series of strange sightings involving missing officers, Alpha team (who is made up of Chris, Jill, Richard and Wesker) all travel to their last known location, The Spencer Mansion. The mansion where the founder of the Umbrella Corporation once lived. If you’re a fan of the games or just a casual observer, you can probably guess what happens next. A lot of bloody violence, gory kills and zombies everywhere!
The look of this movie is highly enjoyable and walking along the walls of the Spencer Mansion did bring back a lot of memories. A lot of characters from the franchise are nice to see, even if the character development is pretty light. Additional sub-plots are left unanswered especially from Claire’s past. Seeing more of Dr. William Birkin (Neal McDonough) would have been perfect.
The movie was written and directed by Johannes Roberts (who directed 47 Meters Down and The Strangers: Prey at Night) and he does a good job of setting the scene and actually delivering a great amount of suspense. There was even a couple of moments that the viewer is on the edge of their seat.
The character development, while light on substance, is enough for the audience to remember them and wanting them to survive until the end. There are a plethora of easter eggs and references to the ‘90s that everyone will enjoy spotting. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City borrows elements from the first two games and balances them fairly well, but it appears that either production was rushed or the script wasn’t quite finished because the third act feels somewhat out of place. While the movie does have a lot of action and zombies getting killed, it does remind you of the video games that we played over twenty years ago. It’s a cheesy movie but proves that video games adapted movies can be good.
Score 3 out of 5
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is the Resident Evil movie that fans have been waiting for! It’s certainly not perfect or sets a high bar, but it’s a step in the right direction. Fans will be entertained by seeing the famous characters and the hellish ordeal that is laying at their feet. Writer and director Johannes Roberts has blended the action and horror elements and ensured that suspense and some scares were included. All I can say is “thank you Mr. Roberts,” you finally made Resident Evil into a live-action film that we can appreciate.
This film isn’t perfect, but it is fun. Sure, it could’ve been better. With an obvious cliffhanger ending the film, there could be a sequel. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a surprisingly fun time and worthy entry in the video game adaptations done right!