Spanning a total of six films over fifteen years and grossing over $1.2 billion globally, Resident Evil has become the most successful computer game adaptation in film history. So it would only make sense that a reboot would be in the pipeline. With director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) at the helm, it seems you just can’t keep a good zombie down. But with so many fans feeling frustrated with how much the previous movies strayed from their console counterparts, perhaps taking a second shot at this undead franchise is the perfect way to appease the fans and make a killing at the box office.
Here are five things the Resident Evil movie reboot must have in order to keep the series from decomposing.
1. Use the Game Characters
As the protagonist for the first six films, the character of Alice was a polarising figure with audiences. An original creation for the film franchise, Alice was an amnesiac with mysterious ties to the Umbrella Corporation, desperate to unlock the secrets of her past. Some people liked the Lycra-clad Milla Jovovich showcasing her on-again-off-again superpowers and delivering cheesy one-liners into camera. Others thought the whole thing was a huge missed opportunity to have a beloved video game character take center stage.
Okay, yes, the series up until now has featured almost all of the fan favourites in some capacity, whether as a glorified cameo or a straight up co-lead. But let’s face it: none of them did the characters justice. We didn’t even get a glimpse at arguably the most beloved of all the game’s characters until the fifth movie. And even then, it was a disappointing one and done appearance failing to return for the next (and final) installment. As the age-old adage goes, give the people what they want. What better way to kick start a reboot of Resident Evil than to have Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine don the S.T.A.R.S. uniform and take the fight to Umbrella? They can always save Leon and Claire for the sequel. Just don’t leave us hanging too long this time.
2. Revisit the Mansion
This one is a no-brainer. Where the first film only teased the mansion before disappointingly heading directly underneath it for the duration of the film, the reboot can faithfully recapture the horror that was the Spencer estate mansion. It provided the perfect setting for a terror-filled night of claustrophobic hallways and creepy moonlit courtyards. Plus, who wouldn’t jump out of their skin as a snarling, zombified canine smashes through a hallway window? It’s also a great way to introduce some of the puzzle elements into the film that fans of the game have become accustomed to.
As the Resident Evil franchise continued to release installment after installment onto cinema screens, it became frustrating to see just how unimaginative the use of locales had become. Despite the first two films sticking quite closely to the games in terms of setting, the following chapters strayed drastically from the source material, providing uninspired locations for the zombie apocalypse to unfold. There’s just nothing very scary about a zombie film taking place in a brightly lit desert or rehashing the same underground complex from previous outings time and time again.
S.T.A.R.S. showed up to try and keep the outbreak contained in Resident Evil: Apocalypse for a while and that was pretty much it for the remainder of the series.
S.T.A.R.S, or the Special Tactics and Rescue Service, play a huge part in the game series. It would also serve as a logical way to introduce us to the core group of characters, namely Chris, Jill, Albert Wesker and of course, Barry Burton.
Wesker made his transition to the films as one of the better adaptations but still left fans wanting more from the former S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team leader turned traitor. If the new set of films is going to follow the game narrative more faithfully, it’s hard to imagine the S.T.A.R.S. not playing a prominent role. And that’s a good thing.
4. Play Up the Horror Aspect
Ask most fans of Resident Evil, and they’ll tell you that the first film in the franchise was probably their favourite one, being that it’s the closest to a straight up horror film as any in the series. As the films evolved, they tended to lean more toward the action side of things, leaving die-hard Resident Evil fans feeling a little cold.
When the first game was released back in 1996, it made a name for itself as one of the scariest video games ever made. Alongside Alone in the Dark, It even helped coin the phrase “survival horror”. The game was more about puzzle solving and creating a sense of fear in the player than shooting the unliving bejesus out of a load of rotting corpses. An over-reliance on blowing stuff up and bad fight choreography took the films away from what the essence of Resident Evil was really about. Give me a well-timed zombie sneak attack over a slow-motion motorbike stunt any day.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve had just about enough of seeing a band of survivors making their way across barren wastelands, scavenging for food and searching for that all elusive safe haven to hole up in. It’s been done. Done to death. Ironically, one of the coolest aspects of Resident Evil: Apocalypse was that it was set in the crowded Racoon City before the world was laid waste to by the T-Virus’s devastating effects. An all too short scene early on where Jill Valentine grabs a gun from her apartment and barges into the police precinct to immediately dispose of some unwieldy deadheads was a definite highlight of the film.
There just aren’t that many places to go when everyone on the planet has been wiped out by hordes of the undead. No real chance for a satisfying ending.
Instead, it’s much more interesting to see how the world tries to deal with the zombie outbreak as it’s happening. Watching these much-loved characters try to save humanity from a deadly corporate cover-up and race against the clock in search of a cure would be a great way to differ from its predecessor and stay closer to the video games that inspired it.