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Resident Evil [film]

Entry updated 11 May 2020. Tagged: Film.

Film (2002; vt Biohazard: Genesis). Constantin Film/Davis Films present a Constantin Film/New Legacy Film production in association with Davis Films and Impact Pictures. Directed by Paul W S Anderson. Written by Anderson, based on the Videogame Biohazard (Japan), also known as Resident Evil (USA). Cast includes Milla Jovovich, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy and Michelle Rodriguez. 100 minutes. Colour.

In the near future, the Umbrella Corporation is the largest business in the world. Its profits mainly stem from secret military and genetic research, conducted in an underground facility called the Hive. The genetically engineered T-Virus (see Genetic Engineering) gets loose in the Hive, where its effect is to turn the inhabitants into cannibalistic Zombies. An Umbrella assault team enters the Hive to find out what happened, and much formulaic gore ensues.

Anderson's Resident Evil jettisons the atmospheric horror of the original GAME (a huge hit which launched its own videogame genre of Survival Horror) in favour of a conventional team-based action movie. Resident Evil faithfully follows the pattern cemented by Aliens: a young woman (Jovovich) is caught up in a military unit sent to investigate a mysterious slaughter. Once inside the location, the majority of the soldiers are killed, leaving the weaker members and the heroine to fight their way out. Where the games worked by playing on the protagonist's isolation and building up a sense of dread, the movie uses jump scares and excessive gore to terrify. The pleasure of unravelling the mystery of the "zombie plague" is also gone. Rather than follow the game's pacing – in which the action largely takes place in a spooky mansion, only revealing the science-fictional laboratory setting in the final act – the movie explains Umbrella's role from the start, and the mansion and forest sets get only the briefest coverage before the story dives into the Hive.

Resident Evil was Anderson's second Videogame adaptation after Mortal Kombat (1995), and stylistically it is much the same as that movie, as well as his Event Horizon (1997) and AVP Alien vs Predator (2004). Resident Evil does have a visual flair however, and the sets faithfully reconstruct elements from the games. The film is absurd, but it is quite entertaining, and it is genuinely loyal to the details of the original, if not its style. Resident Evil is a hack job, but remains one of the better videogame movie adaptations. The novelization is Resident Evil: Genesis (2004) by Keith R A DeCandido. Sequels are Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) and Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) directed by Paul W S Anderson. [JN]


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