In 2017, the “Resident Evil” sequence of video games tore down the action-heavy expertise it had constructed up over the previous few installments and returned to primary survival horror with “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.” 4 years later, the sequence of movies of the identical title does an identical laborious reset, though this one doesn’t return to the start of the movies however pushes deeper into the supply materials, actually adapting the primary two video games, particularly “Resident Evil 2” to the display for the primary time. Pushing apart the CGI-heavy motion of the Paul W.S. Anderson movies, author/director Johannes Roberts has made a film that’s the most instantly impressed by the video games of any flick to date in “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis.” The characters and even the areas can be unimaginably acquainted to “RE” gamers and the tone feels extra related to a recreation sequence that was initially impressed by “Evil Dead.” Nonetheless, uneven motion and clunky storytelling maintain “Raccoon Metropolis” again from turning into the dread-inducing nightmare that hardcore followers know the sport sequence to so typically be.
From the very starting of “Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis,” followers of the video games will word the references to the world they know and love. The movie opens with a younger Claire Redfield and her brother Chris in an orphanage within the coronary heart of Raccoon Metropolis, a spot run by the malevolent William Birkin (Neal McDonough). Years after a creepy opening wherein Claire sees a disfigured woman named Lisa Trevor (Janet Porter), she’s coming again to Raccoon Metropolis through a trip hitched with a truck driver. Now performed by Kaya Scodelario, Claire has heard that one thing nefarious is occurring in her dwelling city courtesy of the Umbrella Company. She picked the mistaken day to return dwelling.
It begins earlier than she even will get into Raccoon Metropolis when the driving force hits a lady on the street. As he’s arguing with Claire, the woman will get up and walks away. The trucker’s canine goes to lick the bloody spot and anybody who performed the early video games will yell “Zombie Canine!” not less than of their head. (These rattling zombie canines had been some of the terrifying issues in recreation historical past.) She finally makes it to the Raccoon Metropolis Police Division constructing, which has been remarkably recreated from these early video games. I wished to look behind the reception desk within the foyer for ammo.
The inhabitants of the RPD can be acquainted with gamers and even followers of the Anderson films: Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper), and Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia) cleared the path with Donal Logue showing as Chief Irons and chewing all of the surroundings he can discover (his first scene performs like he may assume he is in a parody of unhealthy cop films). Whereas the names could also be acquainted, the characters are depressingly skinny. John-Kamen offers Jill a bit of spark however Scodelario seems to be bored, one thing nobody may ever say about Milla Jovovich.
The officers find themselves splitting up and going to 2 key areas that can be very acquainted: Spencer Mansion, the setting of the primary recreation, and the division constructing itself, the place a lot of the second recreation takes place. Roberts brazenly echoes his filmic inspirations too, primarily attempting to make the “Resident Evil” film that John Carpenter would have directed in how a lot the grasp liked movies constructed with the “Rio Bravo” template of “good guys inside, unhealthy guys outdoors.” A zombie film that owes a debt to “Assault on Precinct 13”? Signal me up.
So why doesn’t “Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis” reside as much as that potential? It will get the sticky icky sensible results proper however Roberts and cinematographer Maxime Alexandre battle with producing precise stress. It is nonetheless troublesome for the movies to copy the video games’ sincere terror that emerged from survival horror video games that had been usually very low on ammo and populated by enemies that had been more and more laborious to kill. There are too many scenes in “Raccoon Metropolis” which have poor geography—flash cuts of zombie’s heads growling and weapons being fired. Repeat. There have been occasions once I wasn’t even certain who was nearly getting eaten. We have to know the place the characters are within the house for stress to exist. In any other case, it’s simply hole imagery.
There’s additionally a way that every one of it will imply even much less to those that haven’t performed these early video games. My best rush got here from recognizing areas that I’ve seen beforehand with a controller in my hand. That’s not fairly filmmaking—it’s fan service. I desire a “Resident Evil” film that takes these legendary areas and characters and does one thing recent and thrilling with them. Begin with the mythology as an alternative of simply ending with it too. And the reality is there’s nearly no story to “Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis.” After establishing a bunch of acquainted faces, Roberts is content material to bounce them off some zombies to a predictable last act that brings out a few of the iconic massive bads from the video games. It is depressingly simple to chart the place this movie goes to go and who’s going to make it to the inevitable sequel. There’s one factor an incredible horror recreation can by no means be (and one thing one couldn’t actually accuse the Anderson films of being both): predictable.