The Reel Review
Unlike the six prior franchise films, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a more faithful adaptation of the Resident Evil zombie-shooter video games – providing the origin story of how the Umbrella Corporation infected Raccoon City with a virus causing a zombie outbreak. Armed fighters must race against the clock to escape increasingly mutated zombies before Umbrella destroys the city to contain the infection.
Tracing the fateful night of the zombie outbreak, director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Strangers: Prey at Night) gives us a remarkably faithful adaptation, recreating not only the video games’ characters and monsters, but also using schematics from Capcom to recreate settings and key game moments. Gamers will be tempted to look for the typewriters to save their progress in the game, as Roberts even includes the games’ chilling and unnerving score. (Gamers know to play the game loud to really feel the sense of dread.) His attention to detail is impressive. And for Resident Evil purists, the film is a fascinating live action diorama.
The big problem with dioramas, however, is that they rarely make good films. And just like in the video game, there really isn’t much story for the woefully lifeless, one-dimensional characters, despite a solid cast. Kaya Scodelario (Crawl) and Robbie Amell (The DUFF) are siblings Claire and Robbie Redfern, Hannah John-Kamen (SAS: Red Notice) is Jill Valentine, Avan Jogia (Zombieland: Double Tap) is Leon Kennedy and Tom Hopper (SAS: Red Notice) is the handsome but morally questionable Albert Wesker. Unlike in the games, the muddled action means there are times we aren’t sure who is getting eaten by the zombies. It’s a disorienting experience.
The story itself is way more creepy that it is scary. Apart from all the cool visuals and Easter eggs for Resident Evil gamers, the film does almost nothing to draw in the casual viewer for what will almost certainly be an inevitable sequel. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City looks great, but is about as much fun as watching someone else play a video game.
• 2005’s iconic Resident Evil 4 remains THE most popular video game of the series and perhaps of all time.
• Milla Jovovitch, who ended her run leading the Resident Evil franchise with 2019’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, is pleading for people to help support her homeland of Ukraine in its war against invading Russia. For ways to help, go to her Instagram bio link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Gp3G0Eomd3w8_PF15w4Y5XuF0sRf8gp42DYsv6IucBg/mobilebasic
• Resident Evil gamers, stick around for the Ada Wong cut scene at the end of the film’s closing credits.