Since the late 90s, the Resident Evil franchise has dominated the video game market and is considered one of the best survival horror games of all time. In fact, Resident Evil actually introduced the gaming world to survival horror. With this being such a lucrative property, it’s no surprise that Hollywood wanted to develop a film about the video game series. That became reality on March 15, 2002, where the first Resident Evil made waves in theaters. Unfortunately, the video game adaption failed to impress critics, with its current rating at 36% on rotten tomatoes. Many of the criticisms blasted the adaption for been loud, violent, and even in some cases, boring. However, Resident Evil still made bank at the box office, grossing nearly $103 million worldwide.
That success spawned four more installments; Each film continued to be trashed by critics; however, the box office numbers continued to grow with each film. Now, we’re being treated to a reboot of the franchise named Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City, starring Robbie Amell and Kaya Scodelario. The movie is set to be released on November 24, 2021. Here’s the thing, The Resident Evil movies have never been great, Granted, there’s a popcorn enjoyment to the Milla Jovovich installments, but the films never recaptured the magic that made the games so phenomenal. In order to be successful, here are several issues that the new Resident Evil reboot needs to avoid.
Focus On The Actual Horror Instead Of The Action
One of the core problems with Resident Evil films is that they never felt like a horror film. Sure, there are zombies and jump scares galore, but none of the movies captured the mood, atmosphere, or overall tone of its video game counterparts. What made the Resident Evil series such a success wasn’t just the zombies and scary monsters, it was the way that the developers legitimately had fans shaking in their boots. Those are the true roots of a great Resident Evil game. The challenges players had to face while dealing with grotesque and horrific monsters was a nerve-racking and unpredictable experience.
The Resident Evil movies never had that moment. While Milla Jovovich plays her character, Alice, pretty well, she’s basically an invincible character. Rarely do the monsters in the movies feel like a true threat because Jovovich is written as the ultimate soldier who never backs down. The overall character is bland because she’s not facing any internal demons and the only external conflicts she has are predictably solved by the end of the film. Oh, and she was missing any sense of personality as well. What’s worse, the series chose action over horror, ignoring the key thing that made the source material so popular. The Resident Evil reboot needs to tap into the franchise’s horror roots. No more invincible soldiers who can kill the zombies in their sleep. Plus, the environment and tone have to be effectively creepy. If the new Resident Evil movies can remind fans of the early days of the survival horror games and then it’s off to a pretty good start.
I’ve already mentioned how bland of a character Alice was. The crazy thing is that Alice doesn’t exist in the Resident Evil games! However, the original RE characters don’t fare that much better in the movies. Since the likes of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, or Ada Wong are pushed to the side in favor of Alice, they’re not given much character development and are generally treated as bland allies for Alice. The worst is arguably Albert Wesker, the prime villain of Resident Evil 5. The madman who wanted all the power and glory to himself in the video game was turned into a generic corporate stooge for the Umbrella corporation. It doesn’t help that Wesker, like Alice, is seemingly devoid of any type of personality. In retrospect, Wesker comes across as a fan-made cosplay player. These are heavily layered characters that have carried the RE franchise; There’s nothing wrong with a little deviation here and there, but the core personalities should remain intact. Anderson failed to do that. Hopefully, the reboot will do the live-action counterparts of Chris, Claire, Jill, Leon, Wesker, and Ada some justice this time around.
Look, it doesn’t matter how much RE lore and characters Johannes Roberts packs into the film, the most important aspect is a good script. That was the major weakness of Paul W.S. Anderson’s films. Never mind the fact that the Resident Evil movies heavily deviated from its source material in each film, the plotting, direction, characters, and dialogue were bad. Roberts has a healthy amount of compelling content to choose from. Even if the director decides to go his own path, it’s crucial that the characters are intriguing and the plot isn’t a mess of great ideas. Movies like Jaws and Strangers on a Train heavily distanced themselves from their source material and those films are still regarded as some of the best in movie history. There’s no reason why the RE reboot can’t simply be a good film.