Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Wants to Remind Us That We Should Be Terrified of This Franchise
"Raccoon City is this rotten character," says director Johannes Roberts.
Enjoy your stay. Resident Evil: #WelcomeToRaccoonCity is only in theaters September 3. pic.twitter.com/6zN8Rpw0Ew
— Resident Evil (@ResidentEvil) March 22, 2021
Resident Evil is the undead franchise that keeps on giving, as to be expected in its 25th anniversary. With yesterday being the official anniversary of the Japanese release of Resident Evil, Capcom celebrated with announcements of an April showcase, an open beta for the upcoming Resident Evil Re:Verse, and a Stadia release for Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 7 biohazard Gold Edition. There are more details over on their blog.
But we’re not just getting new releases from the video game side of, “That guy’s a maniac, why’d he bite,” we’re getting a Netflix CG animated series AND a new live-action movie this September.
The movie, directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Strangers: Prey at Night) now officially has a title: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.
Like… THE Raccoon City?
Okay, technically this isn’t the infested city’s first appearance on the big screen, but it’s still to see it right there in the title. Paul W. S. Anderson’s take on Resident Evil also had Raccoon City in it, but Anderson’s take was a bit more, um, let’s say action-oriented? And took more… liberties? It’s definitely more about his OC, Alice, and her increasingly rising status as an ass-kicking goddess who can defy the laws of… everything. Occasionally, a Chris or a Claire would show up, or Wesker in a very Matrix-esque jacket and stoic demeanor, but the main focus was always Alice drifting through the apocalypse while reminding her adversaries what her name was.
It’s Alice, btw, and she remembers everything.
While I definitely would’ve preferred a more horror-oriented take, I’ve long since made peace with Anderson’s vision. His Resident Evil series was perfect “turn your brain off” popcorn fodder where logic got left at the door in favor of seeing that damn laser scene for the millionth time.
And honestly, I think (at the time) I was frustrated because Resident Evil as a whole started to step away from the horror. Anderson’s Resident Evil: Afterlife came a year after the Resident Evil 5 game, you know, where Chris punches a boulder into submission? See, even if Anderson’s movies were just a fantastic excuse to give us action heroine Milla Jovovich (whether she was going after Umbrella alone or with a cloned army of herself), there were still Resident Evil video games being released that were closer to the frantic terror and stress of having enough medicinal herbs in storage. But when the games started to lose that scare-factor (starting at 5, IMO), the movies started to annoy me, too.
2017’s video game release Resident Evil 7 brought me back to never wanting to touch the series with the lights off. Ever since then, there’s been this sort of resurgence to make Resident Evil, well, SCARY, from the 2019 video game remake of the iconic Resident Evil 2 to this upcoming movie. This movie will see a reboot of the film franchise, and Roberts has made it his goal to make it just as terrifying as he remembers the original games being. He spoke about the film during a SXSW panel and actually referenced the Resident Evil 2 game remake from 2019 and its atmosphere for the feel he was going for. The entire interview is here:
The big thing for me on this movie is tone. The thing that I loved with the games was they were just scary as hell, and that is very much what I wanted, that atmosphere. It’s raining constantly, it’s dark, it’s creepy, Raccoon City is this rotten character. I wanted to put that in and mix it with the fun side, especially with the first game’s around-the-corner style of storytelling. We had a lot of fun, down to the fixed-angle-playing that the first game had when we’re in the Spencer Mansion.
He also stressed that his version will have nothing to do with Anderson’s, but he does appreciate Anderson’s take on Resident Evil. Over the course of 25 years, there have been a lot of games, movies, and books exploring all that the franchise has to offer, and Roberts is hoping to leave his own mark on it.
It’s a whole separate origin story that’s based in the roots of the game and in the world of horror. I fell in love with Milla Jovovich, that first movie, it’s great fun…. but this was a real pleasure to be given the reins to a new franchise, hopefully, that is its own thing. I’d never seen the terror and the atmosphere of the games, what I felt when I was playing those games or watching behind people’s shoulders playing the games. I’d never felt that onscreen, and this is something I wanted to tell.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City will be an origin story that’s split between two locations: the Spencer Mansion and Raccoon City, specifically, the police station. It sounds like we’re getting a combination of both Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 video games, which would explain the casting announcements for Claire (Kaya Scodelario), Jill (Hannah John-Kamen), Chris (Robbie Amell), Leon (Avan Jogia), Wesker (Tom Hopper), and William Birkin (Neal McDonough). The first Resident Evil game took place in the Spencer Mansion with Jill, Chris, and Wesker, with the second taking place at the Raccoon City Police Station with Claire, Leon, and William Birkin.
It’ll be interesting to see how this works since the games take place two months apart from each other, but characters from both will be in the movie. It’ll also be interesting to see if we get “I’m totally a good guy, honest, I just wear my sunglasses at night” Wesker. I’m assuming Claire will still be on the hunt for her brother, Chris, and Leon will still be the guy with the WORST first day on the job EVER.
At least everyone at the station tried to throw him a party? Get ready for sad, bloody handprint-covered balloons.
Even with Roberts aiming to have a darker tone this time around, I’m glad that he’s also acknowledging the fun that this franchise has to offer. Resident Evil is just as entertaining as it is creepy, full of somewhat cheesy dialogue that feels, at times, like a coping mechanism to the fact that you most certainly should NOT pet the dog that’s walking toward you. I don’t want any of the unintentional silliness of Wesker throwing his sunglasses toward the screen because THIS MOVIE IS IN 3D, but like, at least give me Chris laughing at Wesker and hurting his feelings.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is set to be released in theaters on September 3rd. There’s no word on any sort of streaming release, which is a bit worrisome, as some are still anxious about going to movie theaters (myself included).
(image: Sony Pictures)
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