RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY
Written and directed by Johannes Roberts
107 minutes, rated MA
Some fear Hollywood is running out of ideas. But surely there is little to worry about just yet, with all of those early-millennium video game adaptations waiting to be rebooted.
As supervisor of the previous cycle of resident Evil films, Paul WS Anderson has pushed the material towards action-fantasy, to better highlight the gifts of his muse Milla Jovovich. His successor Johannes Roberts opts for retro horror, taking us back to the 1990s, when the first resident Evil game was launched in Japan.
On a dark and rainy night of 1998, all manner of chaos unfolded in the title’s decaying Midwestern town – the former home of the multinational Umbrella Corporation, and also heroine Claire (Kaya Scodelario), who chose a singularly unhappy one. time to return.
Umbrella has always been an emblem of Big Pharma’s evil – but for good measure Roberts draws parallels with the woes in the company’s real town of Flint, Michigan after General Motors left.
But these social commentary clues are just clues. Most importantly, the film is a full-scale homage to the legendary John Carpenter, whose fat-free genre classics such as The thing and Prince of Darkness have inspired so many young talent, including Anderson in a slightly different way.
As with much of Carpenter’s work, the main game is the exploration of closed, dark spaces – here, including the orphanage where Claire and her brother Chris (Robbie Amell) grew up, the police station where Chris now works and the mansion of the enigmatic co-founder.
Thanks to a bizarre virus that is spreading through the city, there are zombies and mutants lurking in more corners than not. But that doesn’t stop the characters from going their separate ways and taking different paths through the maze as if they’ve never seen a horror movie (certainly not a Roberts movie, of which 47 meters lower films envision comparable mazes patrolled by great white sharks).