Claire looking at someone in Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

How to Watch All the ‘Resident Evil’ Movies in Order

Welcome to Raccoon City, again!

It’s time to hop on over to Raccoon City, where the grass isn’t green and the girls are pretty…unless they are mutants, then…not so much.

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In case you can’t tell, I’m talking about the Resident Evil franchise. Also known as the horror franchise that’s never been able to win. No matter what, people will always compare the games to the movies. I’ve unfortunately never had the pleasure of playing the games. Leaving me nothing to compare the movies to. I’m objective, okay!

That said, negative reviews/fan disappointment haven’t stopped the film franchise from earning 1.2 billion dollars. An impressive feat—and the flack it got also didn’t derail new content for the franchise either. There was a reboot last year and a Netflix series this year on the way. We’ll never escape Racoon City. Never.

If you’ve never forayed into the Resident Evil franchise, you may be wondering the best order to watch the multiple films. Especially since they aren’t labeled with numbers. Here’s the order they were released and should be consumed.

Resident Evil (2002)

Alice standing in a red dress in Resident Evil
(Constantin Film Verleih and Pathé Distribution)

When you simply borrow aspects of something that people love and make it into a movie—you better not miss. The first Resident Evil, unfortunately, didn’t capture many hearts. This film franchise was kicked off with a plot that follows an amnesiac, Alice (Milla Jovovich), and a group of Umbrella Corporation commandos who scramble to contain a T-virus outbreak. There’s nothing spectacular about this film, but if you forget that it’s loosely based on the games, then it’s an alright horror movie where Milla Jovovich kicks ass in a lowkey cute outfit.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

A serious looking Alice in Resident Evil: Apocalypse
(Constantin Film, Metropolitan Filmexport, Alliance Atlantis, and Sony Pictures Releasing)

Expecting too much from this franchise is useless. Whether you’re someone who played the games or not, these movies are so over the top. Suspension of disbelief is key in terms of finishing this movie. With this one being set directly after the events of the first, it’s relatively easy to follow. Naturally, the zombie outbreak has spread, and Alice (Milla Jovovich), alongside other survivors, is desperate to get away. This is one of the more forgettable entries in the franchise. In fact, I remembered very little before revisiting it.

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

A wasteland in Resident Evil: Extinction
( Sony Pictures Releasing, Constantin Film, and Metropolitan Filmexport)

When your plots all sound the same, to the point where it’s like pressing repeat, you’ve got a problem. What helps save this third entry is the atmosphere and overall chaos. Milla Jovovich is consistent in her role as Alice too. She, yet again, is with a group of survivors trying to get out of the Mojave desert to get to Alaska. Since Alice was infected with the virus, but her cells bonded with it genetically, she’s now superhuman.  Making her more than just a regular person that kicks ass. She’s also a woman who has enhanced speed, agility, accelerated healing, and telekinesis. Look, she’d give average superheroes a run for their money. 

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Alice in a fragile state in Resident Evil: Afterlife
(Screen Gems, Constantin Film, and Metropolitan Filmexport)

Is it a step up from the previous entry? Sort of. For whatever reason, it’s a personal favorite of mine. Maybe it’s due to how Claire (Ali Larter) and Alice (Milla Jovovich) have good chemistry and definitely had feelings for each other (convince me otherwise). The plot is clunky at best, though it has a charm to it. It follows Alice who is rescuing and looking for survivors in LA. The action isn’t totally horrible (albeit a bit unbelievable at times, but that’s a given), the horror is consistent, and women kicking monster ass is guaranteed to keep your attention.

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Alice in the water in Resident Evil: Retribution
(Sony Pictures Releasing/Screen Gems and Constantin Film Verleih)

Without a doubt, one of the worst of the franchise. A lot of this film is nonsensical and pretty forgettable at the end of the day. But at least the horror and action sequences are decent, right? Instead of Alice (Milla Jovovich) working with a group of survivors to escape zombies, she’s captured by the Umbrella Corporation. Which leads to her having to escape from an underwater facility in the Far North. There’s a whole lot about the T-virus (of course) and the facility she’s escaping from is terrible. If Alice wasn’t kicking ass and was horrible at surviving, would it be as watchable? As shitty as it is to say, probably not.  

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Alice, Claire and Abigail in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
(Sony Pictures Releasing, Constantin Film, and Metropolitan Filmexport)

Believe it or not, I watched this one in the theaters. The film was pretty entertaining to say the least. Nothing deeper than that in the end! The plot follows Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her allies after being betrayed by a clone of Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). And they’re in the fight for their lives, again. Of course, there are backstory reveals to humanize otherwise shitty characters. And there are a lot of clones, an all-over-the-place plot, and a lot of the typical things that happen in a Resident Evil film. Considering it’s the last film in the original series, that counts for something. 

Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City (2021)

Claire in Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
(Sony Pictures Releasing, Constantin Film Verleih, and Elevation Pictures)

There’s something about reboots that allow a film franchise to have new life. Again, as someone who has never played the games, I can only say so much. From what I’ve heard, the movie is faithful to the first two games. This is essentially what fans of the games have always wanted from the franchise. The film is set in 1998 and follows a group trying to survive a zombie outbreak in their small town, Raccoon City. Is it worth watching compared to the other entries in the franchise? I think so. There’s enough violence, decent characters, and surprises to keep even casual fans entertained. 

(featured image: Sony Pictures Releasing, Constantin Film Verleih, and Elevation Pictures)

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Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.