Director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Strangers: Prey at Night) has said for years that he wanted to do a proper reboot of the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise. As a lifelong fan of the games, he wanted to replicate what made him scared during his playthroughs for an audience through film. After a few years, and with shooting through the recent pandemic, he has finally delivered his vision.
The film begins with two young children in an orphanage owned and operated by Umbrella – more specifically, under the care of William Burkin. We learn that these are the Redfield siblings who have been homed after their parents die in a car crash. During the middle of the night, a morbid, heavy-breathing person keeps popping in to see Claire, which becomes more relevant near the end. And eventually, Claire is told she is being adopted – and is awoken in the dead middle of the night, told not to make a sound or wake her brother, and that her things will be taken care of.
Fast forward and thence forth set at the end of September 1998, we now watch as two major storylines occur. One where Claire is returning to Raccoon City to see her brother and attempt to convince him to leave the town because she has beliefs that something very wrong is going on after receiving emails and videos from a man who claims to work for Umbrella. The other storyline revolves around the Police Department where fresh rookie Leon works with Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Albert Wesker, Barry, and a few others – all the major players are present here. Their storyline is specifically about investigating a mutilated corpse discovered just outside the Spencer Mansion – who belonged to the man who created Umbrella.
We literally watch as the major points of the first & second game playout simultaneously. This includes the intros to both games and some of their key encounters. There’s lots of scares, lots of big set pieces, and A LOT of gore. The set design is absolutely stunning – there is even a shot of Leon at the front desk of the police station showcasing the statue and exact entrance, and the mansion is breathtaking when you feel the excitement we once felt entering it on the original game stations.
The story moves fast – one of my only real gripes would be that the last 15 minutes literally fly by. But otherwise, it’s greatly paced and full of fun Easter eggs for keen eyed fans of the series. The movie doesn’t overstay its welcome or cling to a high cringe/cheese factor. Instead, we get a film whose honest about it’s excitement and easily accessible for old fans and new entrants.
This movie was fantastic. This is literally the film you would envision when you hear about a ‘Resident Evil’ film adaptation. There isn’t much I would change, honestly – and I don’t think we could’ve gotten a much better piece because I feel most directors would continue with the action-heavy approach, or let it fade into camp territory. But this film upholds the reputation of the series and acts as what appears to be an entry point into a whole new cinematic universe. There’s even a small epilogue that plays out after the first part of the credits (with an appearance that got a fist-pump out of me) that possibly teases an idea for the future.
I strongly recommend this film. It isn’t technically perfect, but it’s almost as good as I could ever imagine one of these films being. It’s everything I was hoping it would be and more. I can’t wait to watch it again in the near future.
A strong 4/5
‘Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City’ is currently playing in theaters.
‘Til Next Time,
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