Netflix’s Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness Will Make You Long for the Resident Evil 2 Remake
2.5 out of 5 zombies in the White House
Spoilers for Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness
Netflix’s Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is set to release on July 8. Billed as an anime series that features two of my favorite Resident Evil characters (Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield), I was excited to see what they’d do with an entire series compared to the CGI movies they’ve released in the past.
Let me start this by saying that when it comes to plot, I don’t expect much out of Resident Evil. Resident Evil is a series where one of the main villains wears sunglasses at all times, the heroes don’t mind the occasional bit of corny dialogue, and everything ends with a rocket launcher and a self-destruct sequence being activated.
That being said, this series is just … okay.
Here’s a quick reminder of the premise:
In 2006, there were traces of improper access to secret Presidential files found in the White House’s network. American federal agent Leon S. Kennedy is among the group invited to the White House to investigate this incident, but when the lights suddenly go out, Leon and the SWAT team are forced to take down a horde of mysterious zombies. Meanwhile, TerraSave staff member Claire Redfield encounters a mysterious image drawn by a youth in a country she visited, while providing support to refugees. Haunted by this drawing, which appears to be of a victim of viral infection, Claire starts her own investigation. The next morning, Claire visits the White House to request the construction of a welfare facility. There, she has a chance reunion with Leon and uses the opportunity to show him the boy’s drawing. Leon seems to realize some sort of connection between the zombie outbreak at the White House and the strange drawing, but he tells Claire that there is no relation and leaves. In time, these two zombie outbreaks in distant countries lead to events that shake the nation to its very core.
Before I dive into what was meh for me with this series, I want to talk about what worked. There are some genuine horror moments that made me uncomfortable. The initial reveal of zombies in the White House is classic Resident Evil first zombie reveal material. The way these zombies go after their targets is grotesquely frightening. You HAVE to shoot them in the head otherwise they WILL keep moving, even if it’s just a torso with a head or a body with no feet.
Leon coming in and already knowing what to do is always a delight, especially since this is post Resident Evil 4 so the president has a lot of faith in him—there’s even a comment from someone who doesn’t understand Leon’s appeal (yet) and how he just “got lucky” by being at the “wrong place at the right time.”
I like Leon and newcomer Jason playing off of each other as two men who have seen some shit, Leon with Raccoon City, and Jason with what went down in Penamstan, the country he led his men into despite being ordered not to investigate what was happening (spoiler: zombies were happening). While they have both survived their own brand of horror, they both have different ideas of what to do in regards to stopping the ones responsible for such brutality. It’s obvious that Jason is suffering from major PTSD and it’s nice to hear a conversation with Leon talking about his own because Leon S. Kennedy is STILL a top candidate for “worst first day of work ever.” The same can be said for newcomer, Shenmei, who has her own trauma that connects her to Jason.
Oddly enough, I don’t mind the predictability of the plot, mostly because you understand why Jason and Shenmei would see things differently than Leon, and mostly because Resident Evil isn’t that deep. Resident Evil has always been about regular people being thrown into circumstances beyond their control, and if they survive, some go on to attempt to uncover the source of the, well, evil. Jason’s just, arguably, going about it in the wrong way – or the right way depending on which character you ask.
You might have noticed that I haven’t said much about Claire in this review. This brings me to one of the major weaknesses of the series. Claire is SO underutilized in this, so much so that you could take her out of the series and nothing of value would be lost.
Claire Redfield deserves better than that!
In this series, Claire is relegated to investigating what’s going on, and… that’s it. She doesn’t encounter any zombies, we don’t get any scenes of her reflecting on what she’s been through the way Leon does, and her investigative parts end up feeling pointless because we have those discoveries repeated back via one of the other characters – or we discover them before Claire does.
We don’t even get to see what she’s doing in Penamstan. Once she gets that “I’ve been psychologically scarred for life” drawing she’s headed back to the U.S. In fact, we don’t even get to see what happens in Penamstan after the zombie outbreak.
Is that child okay?!
Claire also makes some pretty bad decisions. Like. How did you survive Raccoon City then decide to investigate shady-looking areas, unarmed, at night, after seeing a child’s crayon drawing of a zombie outbreak?
I just wanted Claire to do more, but honestly, I forgot she was even part of the story. She’s standing right next to Leon in the promo art and I, sadly, can’t figure out why.
Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness also moves through the plot too quickly. Since it’s a series, I expected there to be more breathing room for what we were learning, but as it stands we only have four 25 minute episodes. I wouldn’t have minded the series being longer so more characters (like Claire) could’ve been fleshed out. I wouldn’t have minded a slower build-up of Jason and Shenmei’s motives, but by the second episode, you’re already suspecting foul play.
I also wouldn’t have minded more horror set-pieces. The White House scene is fairly short, Penamstan is only seen in repetitive flashbacks, we have a horrific scene in the second episode, then … that’s it, minus the final battle.
All and all, this was kind of a shoulder shrug entry for Resident Evil. I liked the few zombie moments we got and I liked at least seeing Leon and Claire together again – though it’s a lot more Leon-centric than Claire in this story. The plot is serviceable, but not as engaging as other storylines in Resident Evil. There isn’t even any of the over-the-top action that we’ve seen in past CGI Resident Evil movies, so if you’re hoping for something as ridiculous as that gunfight on the roof scene in Resident Evil: Vendetta then you’re out of luck.
Honestly, watching this just made me want to play the Resident Evil 2 Remake again because I KNOW that’ll give me a good balance of scares, time with characters, and plot. As it stands, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness isn’t gonna make anyone more interested in the franchise and longtime fans of the series have better things they can turn to. Still, if you want to see a few cool zombie moments and Leon being Leon, this is easy to binge through.
(Image: CAPCOM CO., LTD)
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