Although the Resident Evil game franchise has certainly spun out to its own particularly varied and weird kind of horror these days — from presidential zombie assaults to Very Tall Women — the movie adaptations very quickly went off on their own undead thing. Now, the latest attempt to reboot the big screen saga is trying to bring it closer to where it all began.
Speaking to IGN about Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City — not to be confused with the upcoming Netflix live-action TV series — director Johannes Roberts emphasised that his film was more than just a clean break from past Resident Evil movies, but an attempt to bring it back to the frightsome roots the franchise had in the first place. It’s mean to be a loose adaptation of the events of the first two Resident Evil games, detailing elite spec ops unit STARS’ investigation of the mysterious Spencer Mansion, and Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) and rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy’s (Avan Jogia) very bad day in the titular city.
“This was all about returning to the games and creating a movie that was much more a horror movie than the sort of sci-fi action of the previous films. I was hugely influenced in particular by the remake of the second game and I really wanted to capture the atmosphere-drenched tone that it had. It was so cinematic,” Roberts told IGN. “The previous movies were very bright and shiny whereas this movie was dark and grimy, entirely shot at night. It’s constantly raining and the town is shrouded in mist. I was very influenced by seventies filmmaking techniques — we shot using zooms a lot! And there are no drone shots in the movie or crazy CGI camera shots that are physically impossible. The movie has a very old-school retro feel to it.”
There’s certainly a retro vibe to the first images released alongside Roberts’ commentary. Classic Resident Evil characters are all here like Leon and Claire, as well as STARS operatives Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell), Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), and the shady Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper). Everything’s kind of dark and dingy, the outfits are, at least, faithful riffs on the ones worn in both the original games and the recent remakes of Resident Evil 2. The mansion looks like, well, a mansion. It’s not exactly the slick sheen of Anderson’s action movies, but that’s at least Roberts’ intent.
“We always returned to the game whenever we were looking at the characters and creatures and locations. It was our guiding star. As I said before we worked very closely with Capcom,” Roberts continued. “Every character and creature is from the game and as such, I wanted to be as faithful as possible. I wanted to create a truly immersive feeling for the fans. But that also became the trickiest part of adapting a piece of IP like this because I didn’t just want to put the game on screen — it had to be its own thing with living breathing characters and creatures (and of course zombies!) that felt true to the world.”
We’ll see how successful Roberts is at stepping out of the shadows of both the games and the prior Resident Evil movies when Welcome to Raccoon City hits theatres. It’s currently scheduled for a November 24 release in the U.S.