When the first Resident Evil game debuted in 1998, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spawning several sequel games, comics, novels, and a very lucrative film franchise directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Milla Jovovich. But those films were only loosely based on the games, keeping a few primary characters and the basic concept, but little else. Sony Pictures just dropped the official trailer for its upcoming reboot, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, and it looks like it will hew much more closely to the source material than its big-screen predecessors.
(Some spoilers for the first two games in the franchise below, but no major reveals.)
The sixth and final film in the Anderson series was released fairly recently, in 2016. But the franchise made a ton of money, so naturally a complete reboot was in the works by early 2017, with Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) at the helm.
Although he was a fan of the preceding franchise, Roberts told IGN earlier this year that he wanted to bring a very different tone to his film. He wanted to stay closer to the Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 games—even employing the same fixed angles of Spencer Mansion in the first game. “What I loved about the games was that they were just scary, and that’s a lot of what I wanted, that atmosphere. It’s raining constantly, it’s dark, it’s scary, Raccoon City is a rotten character,” he said. “I wanted to… mix it with the fun side, especially with the narrative style of the first game.”
The first Resident Evil game is set in July 1998, as the the fictional Midwestern town of Raccoon City is reeling from a series of brutal murders. The STARS team sends in a Beta unit but soon loses contact with them, then sends its Alpha team to investigate. Attacked by zombie dogs, they take refuge in the abandoned Spencer Mansion—except it’s not really abandoned. All manner of zombies and mutant monsters—the result of bizarre experiments conducted by the Umbrella Corporation using a biological agent called the T-Virus—roam the mansion and its environs.
Players can choose to play STARS agents Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, and they must find documents containing helpful clues and solve various puzzles to figure out what happened. And of course, there is much fighting against the monsters, including a giant humanoid supersoldier dubbed the Tyrant.
Resident Evil 2 takes place in September 1998, two months after the events of its predecessor. Here, the main characters are Claire Redfield (Chris’ sister) and rookie Police Officer Leon S. Kennedy, who must get out of the city, which has been overrun with zombies. They must battle the Tyrant, who is hunting for yet another mutating biological agent called the G-Virus. (Will these mad scientists at Umbrella Corporation ever learn?) They must also race to create a vaccine for the G-Virus, which can stop the process of mutation in the human body.
Do you remember the 30th night of September?
The trailer for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens with the welcome sign for Raccoon City and the date: September 30, 1998. That places us squarely in the timeframe of Resident Evil 2. True to his word, Roberts seems to have brought not just the look and feel of the game to his film but also most of the characters and several plot points. The cast includes Claire and Chris Redfield (Kaya Scodelario and Robbie Amell, respectively), Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), and Leon Kennedy (Avan Jogia), who team up to find out the truth about the Umbrella Corporation and Spencer Mansion—and of course, fight off the mutant monsters and hopefully save the world.
William Birkin (Neal McDonough), the mad scientist who conducts the disastrous experiments for the Umbrella Corporation, will clearly play a significant role (as he does in Resident Evil 2). Donal Logue plays corrupt Raccoon City Police Chief Brian Irons, Lily Guy plays the mysterious spy Ada Wong, Tom Hopper and Chad Rook play STARS team members Albert Wesker and Richard Aiken, and Marina Mazepa plays Lisa Trevor, the unfortunate subject of one of Birkin’s twisted experiments. And of course, we get all the zombies, savage mutant dogs, and badly deformed monsters any fan of the original games could hope for.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens exclusively in theaters on November 24, 2021. We strongly recommend only viewing movies in theaters if you have been fully vaccinated and wear a mask for the duration of the screening.
Listing image by Sony Pictures