Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City review: a feature-length fan film

For years, Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise has been break up in half. There’s the sport and animated movie sequence constructed carefully round Shinji Mikami’s 1996 survival horror recreation. Then there’s the live-action sequence, a half-dozen barely associated blockbusters starring Milla Jovovich. However the newly launched Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis goals to alter that. It’s a jump-scare-filled live-action adaptation of the earliest Resident Evil video games, and it performs out like a 107-minute fan movie — which isn’t totally a foul factor.

The next contains gentle narrative and thematic spoilers.

Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis, written and directed by Johannes Roberts, merges the plots and characters of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2. Within the yr 1998, the grim post-industrial city of Raccoon Metropolis has simply misplaced its largest employer, the Umbrella Company. To make issues worse, faculty scholar Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) believes Umbrella has polluted the city’s water with a mysterious and harmful substance.

Claire’s elite police operative brother, Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), initially doesn’t imagine her. Then Chris, his trigger-happy companion Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), and hunky blond heartthrob Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper) are known as to analyze a killing in a deserted mansion. Raccoon Metropolis’s inhabitants turns into flesh-eating zombies. Claire should workforce up with rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia) to flee. Alongside the way in which, she begins to unravel one other thriller that’s bothered her for years: a grotesque creature that attempted to befriend her as a baby.

Roberts, who beforehand directed aquatic horror film 47 Meters Down, has described his project as a “pure” adaptation in comparison with earlier movies. And Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis appears constructed to be dissected by followers. Its intertextual references will most likely fill numerous on-line Easter egg guides. I’m not a large enough Resident Evil completionist to fill these guides, however I received the palpable sense of watching one thing the place the creators have been displaying their homework to achieve viewers’ belief.

There’s a particular pleasure in watching scenes you like from different media get performed out by actual folks in a film, and Roberts has sense of what makes particular person moments of translation satisfying. The filmmakers compose photographs to evoke components from the video games even when the narrative context is completely different. They aren’t beholden to casting actors who look precisely like their in-game counterparts, however they maintain onto particulars like Claire Redfield’s iconic pink jacket. The script buys wholeheartedly into Resident Evil’s bizarre narrative quirks, like Raccoon Metropolis’s implausibly ornate police station, moderately than making an attempt to rationalize them or lampshade them with a joke.

The tradeoff is that Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis feels virtually surreal by some other lens. In case you’re not on board with Resident Evil’s mythos, you could end up questioning issues like: “Why does a pharmaceutical company have a quasi-military strike pressure able to containing a whole small city?” or “How does this small city have sufficient orphans to fill a school-sized constructing?” or “Did the company actually must dig a secret tunnel community that’s accessed with playing-card-themed keys, and the way lengthy are these tunnels, anyway?” In case you requested me to attract a map of Raccoon Metropolis after watching this film, it will appear like a tesseract.

The sensation is compounded by the solid’s extremely calm performances. Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis is a gory mess of dismemberment, unintended self-immolation, and ravening zombie mobs, and its survivors appear reasonably irritated by these developments at finest. Leon Kennedy, specifically, is performed much less like a fresh-faced cop out of his depth and extra like a personality from Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan satire The Lifeless Don’t Die or probably an exasperated mailroom intern perpetually on the verge of stapling his personal arms.

The difficulty isn’t that Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis is unrealistic or that I couldn’t pore over a Resident Evil wiki to reply the questions above, however that the eccentricities by no means repay. Issues like Leon’s informal ineptitude may very well be efficient comedy, however different characters keep equally nonchalant by occasions the narrative suggests ought to devastate them. And as a substitute of leaning into online game set items that look completely weird in a live-action movie, the movie glosses over them in favor of extra generic motion scenes.

Regardless of this, Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis goes a good distance by gleefully embracing primal creepiness. Its first 20 minutes push each out there button to freak viewers out: eerie dolls, rasping voices from the shadows, scrawled warnings from unfamiliar beings, cheerful youngsters’s drawings with ominous undertones, and way more. It evolves shortly into an action-horror narrative after this, but it surely nonetheless attracts on the energy of Resident Evil’s spooky aesthetic.

Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis will get lots of moment-to-moment components proper. It’s a movie that’s straight-faced with out being pretentious, stuffed with over-the-top style tropes with out falling into grating, campy self-awareness. But it surely’s sunk so deep in a decades-old fictional world that it will possibly’t look past its boundaries. The movie delivers a guidelines to remind viewers why they like Resident Evil — but it surely typically appears to overlook what’s truly on it.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon Metropolis will premiere in theaters November twenty fourth.

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